Main _ Innocence Reborn _ The Ageless Playscape

Innocence Reborn

The Ageless Playscape


AUTHOR: Li Li Chan
PLACE: Redfern, Sydney, Australia
YEAR: 2017
STATUS: Unbuilt
INSTAGRAM: @cluplup


Research Question. Can Architecture, manifesting through Art and Play, spark the journey of Redfern’s healing process amongst the young and old?

Executive Summary of Project. Redfern is in a constant state of tension. Studies indicate that the young and old are the minorities in Redfern. Locals highlight the lack of recreational spaces and social services catering for these demographics, and they continue to be neglected.

Alain de Botton’s thesis, Art as Therapy, and architect Aldo van Eyck’s seminal playgrounds informed my research question. How can “art”, both in creation and in observation, and “play”, the wondrous act of spontaneous exploration and inquisition, respond to Redfern’s woes?

The design aims to tackle the societal ills of Redfern. At a master planning level, a series of site interventions in the form of art pavilions, pedestrian paths, dedicated activity zones and installations shape a meandering and lively experience through the site.

Three buildings form the crux of the architectural response: the playscape. A different range of programmes, from cafes to skate parks, provide a realm of social activities for Redfern. The theme of Play is architectonically manifested through formal gestures, such as a dramatic sloping roof that creates an artificial hill slide for kids, and a subterranean playground that reverberates with children’s laughter. In the full height gallery space, extravagant sculptures hang overhead, and a façade of triangulated glazed elements reflects tinted sunlight, throwing hints of shadows internally.

A meditative weather watching room on the highest level allows one to observe the rhythm of the clouds and the various atmospheric conditions, framed into an Artwork through the skylight. Full height curved mirrored walls reflect the panoramic views of both Redfern and the outside weather. The experience is poetic and contemplative.

The essence of the Architecture is of healing, of helping people face their inner frailties and engender a cathartic relief. The innocence of Redfern’s youth and elders is thus rekindled, and we will see their smiles return once more.


Li Li Chan has a master’s in architecture at the University of New South Wales (2017). Her graduation studies were Architecture & Social Agency.


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