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更新时间:2014-10-30 11:53:50 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Kids at Play

In the late 1990s, Ole Barslund Nielsen “basically didn’t have a career,” he says. Trained as a sculptor, he was taking whatever odd jobs he could find, mostly building sets in Copenhagen theaters. He met Christian Jensen, a furniture designer, on a freelance assignment setting up a design exhibition and quickly realized he had found a kindred spirit: Creatively, both men had hit a wall. “We had no responsibility at all,” Jensen says.

在20世纪90年代末,奥利·巴尔斯伦德·尼尔森(Ole Barslund Nielsen)用他自己的话说,“基本上没有职业”。他的专业是雕塑师,但他接下了自己所能找到的各种稀奇古怪的活儿,大多数是在哥本哈根的剧院里搭布景。在为一次设计展兼职搭布景的过程中,他结识了家具设计师克里斯蒂安·詹森(Christian Jensen),然后很快就意识到,自己找到了同类:两个人都陷入了创作的瓶颈期。“我们一点职责也没有。”詹森说。

The two started brainstorming possible collaborations. They came up with many bad ones, including an organization that would run team-building exercises for adults, like rafting trips, “something that we wouldn’t know anything about,” Nielsen says.


They might have pursued one of these doomed ideas had a more fruitful possibility not presented itself. Nielsen had volunteered to help choose a new playground for his son’s kindergarten class. He realized that, for the budget allotted, he could build something like a theater set. He designed a three-story pink “Princess Tower” connected to a massive rocket and then merged the two structures with classic playground elements: a ladder, two bridges and a slide.

要不是找到了一种前途更光明的可能,他们或许就会尝试那些注定失败的点子了。有一次,尼尔森自告奋勇地帮助儿子的幼儿园班级,选择一个新的游乐场。他意识到,在给定的预算下,自己可以建造出一座像剧院布景般的游乐场。他设计了一个三层的粉色“公主塔”(Princess Tower),将它与一个巨大的火箭相连,然后将经典的游乐场元素融入其中,包括一个攀爬梯、两座桥和一座滑梯。

Nielsen enlisted Jensen’s help to finish the project, and the two have been building playgrounds together ever since. Their company, Monstrum, is based in Hvidovre, Denmark, but in the past two years they have had projects throughout Europe and in Russia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Singapore. (Their first U.S.-based project, in Tulsa, Okla., is set to open in 2016.)


It would be difficult to mistake a Monstrum playground for anyone else’s. They are all elaborate, enormous and highly imaginative. (Asked to describe their style, Nielsen laughed and said, “Really confident.”) Their designs often feature giant creatures, both natural and fantastical, that children can climb, swing from, slide down and incorporate into their play.


Many playgrounds also tell a story, whether derived from a classic tale, a biological phenomenon or the history of the site on which it is built. For a project in a small park in Copenhagen, “the client wanted us to have some kind of pirate theme, but we didn’t want to make the pirate thing that obvious,” Jensen says. The park, they learned, used to be a shooting range, outfitted with targets shaped like parrots. Nielsen and Jensen constructed a 13-foot-tall brightly colored parrot with a slide unfurling from its side. On one wing, children can scramble up a climbing wall, or they can climb a curved ramp on the parrot’s back.


Nielsen and Jensen maintain that some level of risk is essential for play. Monstrum playgrounds are all built in accordance with European safety standards, which acknowledge the role of risk in development. “You have to be able to assess danger,” Nielsen says. “And that’s a skill that you have to learn.” Children are drawn to danger, he says, and if they are not challenged to test their motor skills, “they would go and climb trees instead, or on the big fence surrounding the playground, or on rooftops.” That’s the idea behind some of their more menacing structures, like a looming red octopus in Moscow or the giant beetle in Stockholm that resembles an alien with outstretched pincers. “The feeling of danger is inspiring,” Nielsen says. “It’s exciting. Riding a bike is dangerous the first time.”


Still, risk needs to be calibrated. Nielsen and Jensen don’t believe that every part of a playground should accommodate every child. If older children “smell smaller kids on the playground,” Nielsen says, “they wouldn’t go there for the world.” And so they build age-appropriate structures for small children and more challenging elements to interest older children, which also give the younger ones something to look forward to. For example, one playground in Stockholm is presided over by two 18-foot-tall owls. Equipped with stairs, ladders and buttons that trigger an array of chimes, they’re big-kid terrain; smaller children can clamber through a set of ground-level acorns.