Play Time: PlaygroundIDEAS Shares the Fun

PlaygroundIDEAS is a not-for-profit venture that seeks to spread the creation of playgrounds all around the world - particularly in developing countries.  PlaygroundIDEAS have facilitated the creation of playgrounds in "many areas in the world where children have suffered torture and trauma as a result of wars, extreme weather and political unrest".
The objectives are to let kids be kids, encourage attendance at schools (they'll go to school if there's a cool playground) and also to assist in broader community development.  On top of directly contributing to projects themselves, PlaygroundIDEAS encourages anyone to log on to their website, and download ideas, blueprints, funding guides, and how-to manuals for  construction and maintenance so communities can build their own playgrounds with locally sourced materials.

Why are playgrounds important? Because kids gotta play.

This is increasingly being recognised by policy makers- the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of one hour a day of open ended play. The Australian Government also recommends a minimum of one hour a day (and preferably several hours) of physical activity for children to maintain their good health.
It's not just the physical aspect of play that is important for kids, it's also necessary for psychological health, and has social and cognitive benefits.  Dr. Evan Kidd of the Australian National University explains that:

Play is an excellent context in which children learn important social skills, such as peer interaction. When children have ‘play-dates’ they aren’t just having fun, they’re learning important socialising skills such as turn-taking in conversation, negotiation, and conflict resolution. No wonder play has been linked to important skills such as understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings, as well as children’s language development. Finally, play seems to be an important medium through which children can begin their long journey through formal education. Studies have shown that children who attend schools that have a play-based curriculum not only learn well, but enjoy learning too.

For more info on PlaygroundIDEAS, click  here.

Read the article by Dr. Evan Kidd (ANU) on the importance of play here.  

Click here for an interesting presentation by Rachel Carlisle (heart foundation) on the importance of active play in an Australian context.

Prefab Skyscrapers a Few 'Kliks' Away

Can prefab module housing make a skyscraper? Well, apparently so, according to Klik Australia, a project of Elenberg Fraser and Unitised Building Australia.

Gizmag describes the Klik system, which can be used for traditional housing, hotels and even 'super towers'.  The offering is targeted towards developers, architects and home-owners; "if you can tick a box, you can design a Klik Building".

The steps to creating one of these buildings are straightforward:

  1. Select Building Type (Linear, L/C/H shape, square)
  2. Select Apartment Type and Mix (1/2/3 bedrooms)
  3. Select Interior Packages (Design and Colour Palette)
  4. Select Architectural Design and Facade Treatment (articulation, glass and screens)

Prefab housing is nothing new, but I've never seen it in sky scraper form before. A bit of googling reveals that SkyCity, to be constructed in China will not only become the tallest building in the world (838m) - but that it is also prefab.

I wonder if this trend will continue? Given that these structures are cheaper and quicker to build, if they take off, the built form of cities will continue to change much more rapidly than ever before.

Read more at the Klik website here, or at Gizmag here.

Textizen Your Thoughts

Textizen promotes itself as 'citizen feedback for the digital age'. Basically, textizen is a platform that uses posters and other forms of media to ask questions to people, who can then answer via SMS.  It is designed to 'open civic dialogue to new participants with a powerful mix of offline outreach and online engagement.'

I think this could be really useful on (and waiting for) public transport to ask questions about planning - wouldn't you be much more likely to contribute to the dialogue if it were quick, easy and convenient to do so?  People on trains almost ubiquitously have their phones out - so may as well put them to use! Provided the data is appropriately analysed and taken into consideration, this could provide another way to increase consultation and communication between policy makers and the community.

Read more here