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Play and Interplay

Disorientation is the current malaise of the teen-ager. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, the teen-ager lives through a time of disorientation, restlessness, and confrontation.

Play and Interplay–A Manifesto for New Design in Urban Recreational Environment
M. Paul Friedberg with Ellen Perry Berkeley

The Macmillan Company  1970
866 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022
Book Design: Gary Fujiwara 

Added to Library


The country – An environment of life, texture, and richness; clean, healthful, and beneficient.

The city  – An environment of contrasts and contradictions; crowded, noisy, and dirty; exciting, active, and vital–a dynamic world of richness and complexity.

The child is a product of his environment. No one can meaningfully apply to his different needs and experiences.

Interplay between the object and the child makes his total world–play. He exploits the vitality of his environment and draws imagination to create his world.

Complexity offers alternatives and choice and the tools of the growth process. Psychologists tell us that rich environments make for healthy personalities. Limit the environment and you limit the man.

Adventure at the end of a piece of rope

Translation of the natural to the man-made

Climb–to observe; to dominate; to hide; to play; explorers, mountain climbers, pilots, ect.

Balancing is a skill in which the challenge develops a further understanding in gravity. The child is in constant competition with natural forces.

Barriers like signs are invitations to disregard. A child looks for challenge in his environment. A fence or a wall must be tested as to it’s adequacy before it can be honored.

Scale defines graduated levels of challenge and territory. Smaller children sit on the columns, older ones use them as a maze, and the oldest jump from one mountain top to the next. When design is scaled to only one group, it excludes others by imitation and activity.

Literal design restricts a child’s imagination, for he can bring to a playground, in his hand or in his mind, any fire engine. An object with only one use creates attitudes and experiences, with one dimension.

Art and play if not spontaneous and unintentional must inevitably suffer. The artist’s concern is the aesthetic; he comments on life through his art. Any compromise to any ancillary function diminishes the artists first goal. Another dilemma of play art is realism; the literal definition of an animal finds it’s play value quickly exhausted.