This event will look into how children can be part of the city and the society through the lens of two influential yet almost opposite designers and activists: English educator, activist, and urban planner Colin Ward, and Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck. We will compare Colin Ward's approach of “learning through the city,” and Aldo van Eyck's approach to establishing a dense network of playgrounds in Amsterdam.

In the 1970s, Colin Ward tried to re-activate the principles of ‘street education’, and to self-empower children and young people as fully recognized urban actors. For 10 years, he edited the Bulletin of Environmental Education (BEE) with materials that teachers could use for environmental education. Some other sources are his influential books, such as The Child and the City and Utopia. Van Eyck made a contribution to ‘the humane city’ through play spaces. These playgrounds from the 1940s to the 1970s are well documented by the Amsterdam City Archives, and we will discover the almost shocking simplicity and austerity of van Eyck's playgrounds.

Through a format of Present and Play, we will discover photographic and film material from the digital archives of The Playground Project. It will be used as source material to discuss the participants' experiences and find new ways to use the city of today as a learning environment.

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Nottingham Contemporary

Weekday Cross, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1 2GB

01159 489750


Opening times

Tue-Sat 10am-6pm
Sun 11am-5pm
Bank holidays 10am-5pm

Closed Mondays, except for bank holidays during exhibitions

Galleries may be closed prior to a new exhibition opening. Please check Nottingham Contemporary’s website.

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