Architekture Fur Kinder

When the issue is the relation between child and architecture, playground is always a strong example. Indeed since 1947, when the dutch architect Aldo van Eyck (1918-1999) start the famous Amsterdam experiences, playgrounds were designed all around the world with several different material, shapes and results.
One of the best sites I found is this swiss site called Architekture Fur Kinder where is possible to find several references and links with other material.

A Dolls’ House. 20 of the world’s best architects and designers build a dolls’ house for KIDS

One more time architecture meets dolls. This time is in a competition for an auction in order to donate all the income to KIDS, as institution for disabled children, young people and their families.

Here you can find some images about the launch ‘Opening a Doll’s House’ event at the new Domus West, in London:

And here the proposals of competitors:





















Icon Magazine - August 2011 July 2011

Ok, I know, we are already in 2013 and it is late... but I woud like to talk about this Icon Magazine number about toys.
The editor's article start with a very famous quote from Plato (wrote in 360 BC): "He who is to be a good builder, should play at building children's houses". Yes, since I start writing about architectural toys in this blog I'm trying to transmit this message and, as usually happen, there is always somebody that already said that long time before you, and in a better way. I'm already used!
Anyway the number 098 of ICON Magazine is a good way in order to enter in this complex and rich world that contains such apparently different and distant items as toys, architecture, design, education, etc...
Indeed the main cover theme is a experience made by the magazine direction giving some Lego Architecture model to several British architects and lets them free to destroy, rebuilt or even melt the Lego bricks into another form or into another ... something else.

Atmos Studio, MAKE studio, Foster & Partners, AOC studio, Adjaye Associate, DSHA studio or FAT studio are the offices involved and each one used Lego in a different and new way. The result, sincerely, are quite disappointing...

More information or some pictures:

Matias Bechtold (born 1963)

This post is not even about toys, it is about an artist and his work. Matias Bechtold's works are something that I consider inspiring for everyone that deals with toys for two reasons: the scale and the material. It is something like a paper engineering supported by an Italo Calvino narrative. 

Made by corrugated cardboard their cities evoke scales relations in a view of giant on the urban tissue. Usually without people, his scenarios evoke large cities with skyscrapers and strong scale differences. The use of this kind of cardboard creates a strange monochromatic atmosphere that sometimes remember some "after war" stage or some kind of desert city.

One of the interesting aspect is the use of corrugated cardboard material characteristics in order to achieve pattern effects and scale definition through the design of windows and levels separations in the buildings. Also the streets and the railways are made using the material texture. 

More recently Matias Bechtold worked on the “Im Inneren der Apparate” (On the inside of machinery) project that explore some kind of "inner" architectural point of view building cities with their own detailed interiors.This work is also using recycled material as plastic boxes, televisions or vacuum cleaner in order to create interior complex spaces with a really futuristic and technical look.
Indeed exist, in the Bechtold's works, some kind of exploration around the basic architectural composition elements that exist in the best architectural toys. In fact one of the most important aspct in the toy design is precisely the complexity reduction in order to keep the nature of the object without the "too much information" effect.

A history of Toys by Antonia Fraser

Yesterday is arrived: A history of Toys by Antonia Fraser. Edited by Spring Books it is a quite old book (first edition in 1966) but maybe still one of the best general toys history available in the market.  Since ancient and primitive playthings to modern trends (sixties trends, of course) the book describes the evolution of toys with a very good images support. During the narrative Antonia Fraser is not limited to a chronological sequence but periodically she crosses toys with other issues or events.
You can still find it for a pittance on Internet (I paid mine less than 9 pounds...).
I strongly recommend.

Crafting the future - 10th European Academy of Design Conference - April 17-19 2013 Gothenburg

During the last week I have been in Gothenburg participating in the 10th European Academy of Design Conference - Crafting the future. There I presented an article about architectural toy design (Design education through toy design. Old and new paradigms in architectural toys design) and it was quite good because the feedback I received from the audience. Sincerely, and someone told me the same, the presentation was much more rich and clear than the paper, both because the paper was written in September (almost 8 months ago) and since that my research advanced a lot in several directions and because I could transmit my really passion for the issue. Indeed it was a really important effort in order to organize a little more this huge field of knowledge.
Anyway, the interesting thing was that during the final lecture the keynote speaker Otto von Busch from Sweden (Co-craft and The Capabilities of Industriousness) spoke also about the main importance of toys and craft activities in the educational processes. So I felt really “on the edge”!
You can find below the slides of my final presentation.

Julien Deransy - PopFAUP

Some things are much more complicate than they look and Pop-up books are among them. Only looking closely to the paper engineering techniques used in this kind of artefact we can understand that it is not a child's play.
During the semester Julien tried several ways in order to archive a good result in its prototype and the result look simple but it is not. 

The PopFAUP prototype:

The Julien article about Pop-Up books: 

Ludovica Daddi - CorNice

Ludovica worked on a device for the perspective phenomenon comprehension. So she designed a kind of frame in order to allow the child reproduce and complete a view.

Here the poster about the CorNice

Here the article Forma Mentis (in original Italian language):

Belisa Murta - Architrunfo

Belisa Murta thought in a board-game in order to test the architectural knowledge of the players. The prototype is still "work in process" and maybe could be interest for our guest Gil d'Orey from Mesaboardgames that in 21/11/2011 gave a lecture to the students about board-games. 

Gaetan Amossé - Sliding panels playground

Playgrounds and other educational spaces were some among the course issues. In the Gaetan Amossé proposal, the student worked on this kind of theme. It is a changeable space customizable by the child in order to create several different configurations and understand special characteristics. Walls, windows, column or other architectural component can be moved in a three-dimensional grid.

The poster with the proposal called "sliding panels playground".

The article (I post the original french language text): L’aire de jeux: en quoi l’architecture des aires de jeux contribue-t-elle à l’épanouissement de l’enfant?

Jessica Correia - A ordem cega (the blind order)

Jessica Correia work is about blind children and how they can understand and feel the space and shapes. She joined this theme with the classical orders of architecture and made a toy called "The blind order".

The "blind order" poster

The article "Espaço Escuro"

Alexandre Enjalric - The Cube

Here the works (both theoretical and practical works) of Alexandre Enjalric for the Architectural Toys course at FAUP during the first semester.

The toy prototype called "The Cube"

The article: The building sets such as the laboratory of architecture of the child. 

Architectural Toys at FAUP

The first edition of my course at the FAUP is over. After six months I can say that it has been a very positive and rewarding experience.
What I want to do now is to publish in this blog some student work in order to show some results. Until there I post two pictures showing the stack of works that are now in my faculty office… now it is my time to work!

The course site:

FROBEL - revista de instrução primaria

Between 1882 and 1885 were edited, in Portugal, 7 numbers of the Froebel review.
During this period de Lisbon City Hall educational services showed the german educator as a model to follow.
In Lisbon still exists a small pavilion in the Jardim da Estrela build in 1882 in order to be an example for a frobelian school.

Fabrica de Paredes - 1931 catalogue

This is an ancient catalogue (1931) of a Portuguese factory in Paredes, Porto, that produced scholar furniture and teaching material as wooden solids, design tools or even Froebel gifts.

Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg

Two years ago I have been in Nuremberg just because I heard something about this fair. This year I returned just because now I know that you can’t talk about toys without visiting the Spielwarenmesse  in Nuremberg, the biggest in the world. 
Some facts: 2,776 exhibitors from 62 countries. 76,055 visitors from 120 countries. 808 exhibitors attend no other fair. 30,650 visitors only come here. 1 million products, including 70,000 new products. 2,500 journalists in Nuremberg.

Brick Fetish

Sometimes the best way to talk about something is let other talk. This happen today with this great site called “Brick Fetish” that, as you can read in its homepage, “is a narrative timeline of the history of LEGO®: the company, their toys and the Kirk Christiansen family (q.v.). It is also a repository of set images, catalogs, ads and promotional literature, idea books, patents, photographs, and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on.”
It deserves attention because is not a simple collection; it is a very well done research about LEGO with several documents and references where you can find almost everything about this famous toy.

Here is the link: