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Winners of “Playable10” playground design competition announced

Children will be cavorting on a custom-designed playscape in downtown’s Woodruff Park next spring, courtesy of “Playable10,” an international design competition intended to encourage creative thinking about play spaces and equipment.

The jury chose a design by Jeff Santos, a young video game designer in Vancouver, British Columbia, as the winner of the “Playable ART” category. He wove a variety of play experiences into a sculptural wooden rendering (above) of the city’s initials, ATL. Santos will work with Jon Sanford, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, to hone the design. Bank of America will fund its construction with a $25,000 gift and provide volunteers to build what sponsor Central Atlanta Progress hopes will be recognized as a sign of downtown’s potential as a livable neighborhood.

The competition, conceived by Cynthia Gentry of the Atlanta Taskforce on Play and co-organized with Georgia Tech industrial design professor Claudia Rébola Winegarden, included two other design categories. Alex Gilliam, founder of Chicago’s Public Workshop, won in the DIY category, for which participants designed play equipment that individuals could make themselves. His design required wooden or bamboo strips, wire ties, a mallet and a wire cutter.

There were no winners, only honorable mentions, in the “Playable SITE” category, for which competitors designed concept master plans for play experiences along the Atlanta BeltLine.

Gentry pronounced herself pleased with the results of the competition, the first such effort since 1954 — and not only the winning entries. “I’m most excited that we had inquiries from 130 countries,” she said. “That means that many people are thinking about play, about kids, healthy living and creativity.”

Gentry will post the instruction manuals for the DIY designs of the semi-finalists on her website so that anyone can download and make them. You can see images of finalists and honorable mentions in all categories here. She will also make the design and construction of Santos’ piece an online case study.

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