Play Garden: A contribution to MC Redux- Collection of Ideas for the New Use of Maison Crystal
Exhibition: MC Redux: A Collection of Ideas for the New Use of Maison Crystal
Maison Crystal, Thessaloniki, GR, 2014
Organised by the Demetria Cultural Festival, Municipality of Thessaloniki
Curators: Katerina Kotzia, Vaso Plavou, Fotis Sagonas, Korina Filoxenidou
Exhibits: Play Garden (drawing , text)
The curators of MC Redux, as part of Demetria 2014, invited us to participate at this peculiar, yet most interesting event about the future of Maison Crystal, the former café & recreation facility, now abandoned, owned by the Municipality of Thessaloniki at the eastern part of the Thessaloniki dock. One of the interesting aspects of the call was that we had to choose one of the ideas contributed from residents of Thessaloniki as posts at the facebook site of the event, and respond to the specific idea by providing it with an image.
We chose to respond to Scale Tofit’s idea, an anonymous user who, in a part of his/her text proposed the conversion of the site into a playground. We found his/her proposal inspiring, because it discusses the fact that discovery and adventure are the fundamental components of childhood; fascinated by prohibitions and attracted by danger the child uses creatively spaces that are normally overlooked by the adults.
Scale Tofit’s proposal also brings forward a haunting truth: The child is not as much a part of life in our cities as it should. This, however reminds us of the Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck, who argues that the child will eventually ‘discover its identity against all odds, damaged and damaging in perpetual danger and incidental sunshine. Edged towards the periphery of attention, the child survives, an emotional and unproductive quantum’ 
MC is a space that already provides these qualities. MC that now lies at the ‘periphery of attention’ should retain its leftover qualities in order to attract the activity of children. The space at its present condition can satisfy what, according to van Eyck, the child looks for in the city: ‘places where it can play as it chooses, paths along which it can run, things on which to climb and exercise the body, material with which to construct […]’ 
Responding to this idea we propose, along with Scale Tofit, the use of the found condition and the conversion of found objects and structures into opportunities for play. The spatial qualities of MC, like abandoned spaces and structures, parts of soil, platforms, objects, trees, boundaries, can be converted into opportunities for play. The space will have to provide a playful meaning to the structures and that can be possible by the use of a structured narrative, a story. For that reason we propose providing the play-conditions with names, that along with specific design interventions, could become parts of stories: The ‘Guard’s House’, the ‘Muddy –Soil’, The ‘Tree House’ etc. The found conditions along with the ones that we add can become the parts of a geography of play that takes place in the entire site of MC, indoors and outdoors, and as episodes of the stories that the children invent during their play at the site.
We provided the proposed image with the form of a map, that the child could use as orientation in the geography of the MC play garden.
 Aldo van Eyck, ‘The Child, the City and the Artist’, in ‘Aldo van Eyck. Writings’, Sun Publishers,The Netherlands, 2006, p.23
 Aldo van Eyck (1956) in the book ‘Aldo Van Eyck. The Shape of Relativity’, by Francis Staruven, Architectura&Natura, Amsterdam, 1998
[Photograph of the exhibition, by the curators]