The floor to the Merchant of Clouds – Speaking of… a Children Town


It was 1972.

I had already observed, while working briefly as a school teacher, that little had changed from when I had been a child in terms of the expressive tools made available to children.

So I designed a box with the following dimensions: 1.50 x 1.50 x 0.30 metres.It was to contain 22 white, red, blue and yellow pieces, whose modular sides allowed for infinite compositions in every spatial direction. The concept was based on the scaling-up of the old boxes of wooden building blocks given to children to play with. With the change of dimension and the use of coated polyurethane, the shapes became a tool for the construction of child-scale spaces. This meant giving the children another tool for expression and communication, allowing them to manipulate their own space to meet their requirements in terms of play and learning.The geometric abstraction of the single elements – albeit with their formal evocations – afforded infinite possibilities for use and symbolic interpretations, thus giving free reign to the child’s creativity. The scale is such that it allows children to experience the spaces and environments that they create, rather than simply contemplating them externally. Children can construct their own things, their own objects, and weave social relations with others in both the creative and construction phases, and also when actually playing with the shapes. The material is soft but substantial, it allows children to play freely, even aggressively, and it can be used in a way organised by the children themselves. It is light, easy to transport, and is suitable for constructions that require targeted effort but no help from adults.


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