Gabriela Burkhalter is a Swiss political scientist and urban planner based in Basel. She has documented the history of playgrounds on www.architekturfuerkinder.ch since 2008. She was a guest curator of The Playground Project at the 2013 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and in 2014 for Architectures for Children— Zurich’s playgrounds at gta exhibitions, ETH Zurich. In the same year Group Ludic assigned their archives to her for preservation and research. In 2015 the project Group Ludic’s Visionary Urban Landscapes, 1968-1979 received a grant from the Graham Foundation Chicago. Curated by Gabriela Burkhalter at Kunsthalle Zürich, The Playground Project provides an extensive overview of initiatives, pioneering acts, and adventures, and installs three playgrounds for children to run, hide and climb in our galleries. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog introducing, discussing and illustrating numerous projects. The symposium is Free and daring! Play(grounds) as a place of identification, community, and disorder in the city is co-convened by Burkhalter who will open it with a brief introduction to her work and project and moderate the conversations.
Marion Ebert is the initiator and director of Kinderbaustelle Biel (Kids’ Construction Site Biel), a patch of waste land at the fringes of a large construction site at the center of Biel’s settlement area. Since 2015 and between the spring and fall holidays the site is explored and cultivated according to the imagination and desires of the kids alone. Fantasy, design, technological skills, team work, self-determination, exercise, the experience of nature, and sociability are fostered by this free and participatory vacation and leisure facility. The project’s second season is about to commence this year in Biel. Marion Ebert graduated in art pedagogy, and is trained as a carpenter. She initiated and directed Kinderbaustelle Aarau (2008), a model to the Biel project. Ebert realized numerous carpenter works and designs such as Bibliothek im Zirkuswagen (Circus Cabin Library), Aarau 2008) and many other stage and play designs and constructions. For this symposium she prepared a presentation of Kinderbaustelle Biel including broader questions of city scape revival by way od mobile playgrounds. www.kinderbaustelle.ch
Axel Fischer is the Head of Maintenance at Grün Stadt Zürich (Green City Zurich), the department of the City of Zurich (section public works and sanitation) which fosters, designs, and manages all grassland within the city. Together with about 250 employees Fischer takes care of 750 hectare parkland, 22’000 street trees, creeks and water’s edges, 20 cemeteries with 59'000 grave sites, some 30 sports grounds with 100 sports fields, public baths – and 150 public playgrounds plus 350 more playgrounds in schools, kindergartens, and municipal nurseries. A near-natural and environmental friendly cultivation of those sites is the key aspect of this work that is largely aligned with the principle of sustainability and the nurturing of biodiversity. Axel Fischer is a trained landscape gardener, horticultural engineer, and graduated business manager. Before his employment at Grün Stadt Zürich he was the Head of Maintenance at Friedhof Hörnli in Basel (until 2000), and the Head of Sanitation of Basel City (until 2008). Fischer will present his rich work experience and opinion on the current situation of playgrounds in Zurich to this symposium. www.stadt-zuerich.ch/gsz
Tim Gill is one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood, and an effective advocate for positive change in children’s everyday lives. For over 20 years his writing, research, consultancy projects and other work has focused on the changing nature of childhood, children’s play and free time, and their evolving relationships with the people and places around them. He is the author of No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society (2007), co-author of an authoritative UK guide to managing risk in play, and a Built Environment Expert for the Design Council. Gill is in demand worldwide as a public speaker, and appears regularly on TV and radio. He was Director of the Children’s Play Council (now Play England) from 1997 to 2004. In his keynote lecture for this symposium, Gill will explore the history and evolution of playgrounds, and their links with notions of childhood and children's place in – and claims on – the communities where they live. www.rethinkingchildhood.com
Sven Goebel is the Divisional Manager of the department «Free Space and Participation» that was founded at Pro Juventute in 2015, and that contains the campaign „Free Space for Children“, a traditional concern of the foundation since their engagement with adventure playgrounds and playground advise in the 1950s in Switzerland. For many years Goebel is privately and professionally involved in matters of health and mobility. Petra Stocker is the Project Coordinator of the segment «Play and Social Space» at Pro Juventute where she realizes play space and play culture projects. For eight years she is active in the open children’s work, with a focus on the creation and design of play space. The foundation Pro Juventute was founded in 1912 to support kids, teens, and families in their daily lives, and to provide swift and useful help in times of strain. Pro Juventute is also active in the implementation of childrens’ rights in Switzerland, and seeks to improve the general conditions for families in this country. The foundation is politically, ideologically, and confessionally independent, and is funded mainly by donations from the population and from businesses. For this symposium, Sven Goebel and Petra Stocker will take the audience on a journey into personal past-times of play, and so create entryways into today’s situation of free space for children in Switzerland, as well as the meaning of child’s play for a healthy development of children. www.projuventute.ch
Karl Guyer is part of the management of the “Gemeinschaftszentrum” (short: GZ, English: community center) in the Zurich neighborhood Wipkingen where he leads the educational and cultural activities. One of the first of 17 organizations run by the Zurich Community Center Foundation, GZ Wipkingen is a social-cultural facility for local Zurich residents. Like all GZs it is commissioned by the City of Zurich to invest in culture and education in order to create space for residential exchange and encounter. It seeks to foster social participation, equal opportunities and the integration of all groups of the neighborhood’s population. It also initiates developmental projects in the neighborhood and provides infrastructure for self-determined use. Karl Guyer is trained as an elementary school teacher, parental and adult educator and lecturer at the ZHAW school for social work. Engaged in socio-cultural work for over 25 years he acquired substantial knowledge of playgrounds as places of leisure, recreation, encounter, integration and cultural activities. This symposium offers a brief lunch excursion to GZ Wipkingen where Karl Guyer will introduce the history and significance of “the world’s first Robinson playground”, an adaption of earlier adventure playgrounds that served as the foundation for the community center some 60 years ago. Ever since the playgrounds in the area have been an integral part of the GZ’s identity, and also its contemporary robe-playground „Märliwald“ is attended by an impressive 80'000 people per year. www.gz-zh.ch/wipkingen
Alberto Nanclares da Veiga and Manuel Polanco Pérez-Llantada are members of the Madrid based artist collective Basurama (with offices in Brazil and Bilbao) which is dedicated to research, cultural and environmental creation and production. Their practice revolves around the reflection of trash, waste and reuse in all its formats and possible meanings. The collective was born in the Madrid School of Architecture (ETSAM) in the year 2001 and, since then, it has evolved and acquired new shapes. Their aim is to study those phenomena inherent in the massive production of real and virtual trash in the consumer society, providing different points of view on the subject that might generate new thoughts and attitudes. Besides the visual arts in all its formats Basurama compiles all kind of workshops, talks, concerts, projections and publications - more than 100 projects in the four continents. www.basurama.org
Helle Nebelong is a Danish Landscape Architect and Master of Public Management with a special focus on spaces for children and how to adapt and improve the city for everyday life; spaces where people’s well-being and creativity develop through a spontaneous perception of nature, culture and architecture. A key pioneer of the natural playground movement, which advocates for using local materials and materials found on site, Nebelong is internationally recognized for her special philosophy, such as presented in numerous keynote lectures and publications, and play space designs, such as The Garden of Senses and the Nature Playground in Copenhagen. For more than ten years Nebelong was employed by the City of Copenhagen (1994-2006), leading the Technical and Environmental Administration’s strategy "City for All - Improving the accessibility of the Urban Spaces in Copenhagen”. Between 2004-14 she was president of the Danish Playground Association. Since 2007 she is a member of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children Leadership Team representing Europe in the design and planning field. www.hellenebelong.com
Since 2010 Samuel Roth is the Director of open children and youth work in the community of Wattwil, and holds a BA in social work in St. Gallen (2011). Together with a group of fellows engaged in issues of child-care and leisure activity he initiated “Offene Kinderbaustelle Wattwil” (open kids’ construction site Wattwil) as a pilot project in 2012. Due to the success of its pilot phase the Wattwil youth commission decided to sustainably continue the project as a segment of the community’s open children and youth work. Right at the town’s center and each year between May and September, the Offene Kinderbaustelle Wattwil provides space for children to build freely and in all kinds of directions according to their own ideas and wishes, their knowledge and capacities. In so doing, they learn to express themselves in several crafts and creative fields outdoors; alone or in groups they integrate their given environments into their activities, and thereby improve their tactile, social, and physical skills. The project is designed to serve the highest level of participation for parents and kids and is thus free of charge. Samuel Roth is further involved in the association TEO – Netzwerk Jugendarbeit (youth work network) which seeks to foster the Toggenburg youth’s proactive use of leisure time by offering sustainable programs catered to them. www.kinderbaustelle-wattwil.blogspot.ch, www.netzwerk-jugendarbeit.ch
Sreejata Roy’s present practice involves working with young people for the past several years (since 2007) through different forms of art practices connecting various ideas of public spaces in the low-income colonies in New Delhi. Roy has graduated from the Coventry School of Art and Design. She has been awarded with the Public Art grant from FICA and completed reshaping a community park in one of those low-income colonies. The Park Project from India has been selected among the finals for the International Public Art Award 2015. Roy has also worked exploring community and public spaces in other parts of India and the UK. Presently, she is working on a year-long project in Khirkee, an urban village exploring the idea of women in public space that is supported the by Khoj International Artist Association, New Delhi. She is simultaneously engaging with homeless women exploring the idea of women in public space at the shelter in Jama Masjid, a project supported by Art Reach, New Delhi. Roy is also awarded with other prestigious scholarships in India and abroad and has participated in many national and international exhibitions, residencies, and workshops.
From 1954–1958 Xavier de la Salle served as cabin boy and sailor in the mercantile navy. He served in the French marines for an additional three years. He began his studies in political science and economics at the University of Bordeaux in 1961. At the same time, the first exhibitions of his drawings and watercolor works took place. In 1964 he moved to Paris and worked as press assistant for the European Community (EC), assisted artists such as the Baschet brothers and Joël Stein alongside his artistic practice as a painter and sculptor. Together with David Roditi and Simon Koszel he founded Group Ludic in 1967. Between 1975 and 1979 he continued Group Ludic on his own. During that time he wrote his thesis on the design of urban public space at the University Paris-8 Vincennes. From 1973 to 2001 he was professor of design, environment, and urbanism at the École d’Architecture de Paris-La Défense. Between 1979 and 1985 he carried out interventions in problematic areas in the Parisian suburbs. He published Espace de jeux, espace de vie (Bordas, Paris) in 1982. He then executed mandates in spatial planning and regional economy until 2000 in parallel with his artistic practice. In 2000 he moved to the southeast of France where he mainly works as a painter and sculptor and has been active as a community politician.