For the autumn half term, we opened the adventure playground Vildskaben in collaboration with Børnekulturhuset (the House of Children's Culture.)
Vildskaben can be translated to "The Wildness", but the second part of the word Skaben also means the act of creating.
Vildskaben. was inspired by the original Danish adventure, or building playgrounds. Something this country was world renowned for, but that has since been all but forgotten, due to aggressive commercialisation of playground design and the rules these need to adhere to.
In a secret club, we treat play as an artform, so it was obvious that we would add surprises and twists to the traditional adventure playground, becasue - to stay with the art analogy - that painting has already been done.
Before you were allowed to enter, you had to report to the Grey Guard who told you about the potential dangers inside, but at the same time served up some of the magic that fueled Vildskaben
The Grey Guard also helped you create your mystic sign. Participants painted their sign on the fence around the playground and, once inside, made a built version of their sign. When they had done that, they could build, play, change, destroy or do whatever they wanted to.
We envisaged Vildkskaben as A shantytown for magic users - we never told anyone this, but created a mood that was readable through visual clues and the already existing magic they would find inside - like the overgrown hut we found at the back of the garden and turned into a camera obscura.
Participants could pick up tools and supplies at House of Wares where they could also exchange the treasure tickets they found for actual treasure like beach chairs, wheels and old furniture.
Despite the usual arguments against adventure playgrounds, nobody got hurt. Families kept coming back and phones where ever only looked at when it was time to take photos of the wonders families built.
If you wanted to play in a more quiet manner, all you had to do was to walk about a kilometer and you would find The Introvert Playground
Read more about that below...
If you walk through the Danish town of Aarhus, you may come across a small structure that looks like a cross between a fir tree in the wrong colour and a overly ambitious birdhouse.
What you have found is actually a playground, but not like any other - this is the world's first distinctly introvert playground. .
Conventional playgrounds are - possibly without anyone ever giving it much thought - designed for extroverts. They are places of ruckus and risk-taking, designed to cater to as many kids as possible - they are loud, wild and social places.
The quieter, more daydreaming, more introverted kids often prefer solitary, non-physical play that mostly takes place in the mind and in 2017/18 we dreamt up and built a playground for introverted play.
It features a cabinet of curiosities - not quite a museum, but a collection of objects meant to make you wonder and dream.
At the very top there's a - slightly altered - visual translation of an old, Danish lullaby, each verse formed by a cutout and lit by the sun, through hidden holes, creating a zoom that ends with the complete, unknown darkness of a sausage in the belly of a bird in an egg in its nest...
Although the introvert playground is meant as a solitary experience, you can play - not with, but for others: If you peek out through the cutouts below the cabinet of curiosities, you become someone else. This miniature role play is actually something a lot of introverts enjoy as you slip into another role - it's not you on the line, but the red superhero of the tree.
When you leave the hollow tree, you crawl under a banner with the words "Vær på Eventyr" (Always be adventuring) - encouraging you to approach the world with curiosity and imagination, to treat it as a strange place to be explored, because if play takes place inside your head, everything is a playground.
The Introvert Playground was made with funding from The Municipality of Aarhus
Please feel free to contact us os for further comment or high-res images of this project
During the hot, hot summer of 2018, we went to the birthplace of Lego and painted the longest hopscotch court in town onto the pavement for Capital of Children
When we were done, we opened the hopscotch lab and the children of Billund got to work, assigning rules, exceptions, challenges, extra lives, portals, potions and instant death onto the blank fields.
We're happy to say that they didn't just stick to the pre-painted fields. Armed with chalk, they extended the hopscotch, made shortcuts and traps and when they were done, they chose their best leg and continued to hop the entire course to earn their hard working leg a glorious medal.
And when the rain finally came, everything was washed clean and it could all start over again...
Art can be a strange encounter - it's often a different visual language to what you meet in everyday life, a lot like going to a different country, so when Museum Jorn asked to design a children's guide to the museum, we made an Expedition Book that effectively turned Museum Jorn into a strange, new place to explore.
The Expedition Book introduces young explorers to a strange world that they will gradually become more familiar with and, as with any meaningfull adventure, this one will change the explorers themselves. Part of this change is reflected in the book itself - as you journey through the museum, the book will be transformed.
The book's pages, rectangular to begin with, will change shape, elements will be cut out and get stuck back in elsewhere, the flat pages become thicker, drawings, doodles and notes will fill it up and it grows into a sprawling journal/art book that will remind you of your art adventure.
The explorer will also be physically changed: The center spread of the Expedition Book can be made into a mask, this mask is a personal souvenir that will be individually shaped and customised to each explorer's liking. Because of the choices you have to make when making the mask, no two explorers will have the same mask.
Every page presents the explorer with an invitation to play, experiment and be creative, several of these 'invitations' are very open suggestions and make use of what we call 'the creative impulse' - the urge to doodle and make marks when there's just a subtle hint to work from. These pages offer you an irresistible opportunity to play.
Some of these invitations to play and explore are more directly linked to the art, like below where you're prompted to think up some creatures to inhabit the Cave of the Moon Dog. The Moon Dog is a ceramic figure displayed in a dimly lit room full of Jorn's ceramic work. The explorer can interpret and take cue from the vases and reliefs on display.
By using the expedition format, we're aiming to avoid the classic teacher/pupil dynamic often seen in these guides - our Expedition Book takes children on an adventure into the unexplored, asking them to embrace their own creativity, look at everything for themselves and to form their own opinions on art. When on an expedition, your senses are naturally heightened.
On the back cover it says 'Welcome home' - poetically concluding the adventure and sending explorers home with an enriched view of the world - it is also our way of welcoming the explorer to the fascinating world of art - that he or she has found a home in a place where you can play, ask, doubt, think and make to your heart's content.
Feel free to contact us for further comment or access to press images for this project.
Indtag Brabrandstien is a signage project for Taste Aarhus. (The word "indtag" can mean both "conquer" and "ingest" - Brabbrandstien is the name of a path going from the city centre to the suburb of Brabrand.)
The signs show people which edible plants are in season and are being put up, moved, replaced and removed throughout the year. The project is about setting a mood and inspiring people to learn about all the goodies growing along the path, than providing detailed information.
Recipes and scientific names can be found on the Taste Aarhus website.