Drew Allen

Drew Allen

Denver, CO, US


AzCA Experimental Playground

This design/build project was designed for the Arizona's Children Association South Tucson campus. The campus is located in a low income area and is meant to serve children between the ages of two to five. It's aim is to encourage imaginative play, movement, cognitive development, and to serve children with a wide array of physical abilities.

My primary roles began as one of the initial overall designers, then progressed as one of two lead designers for the concrete retaining walls, leading on site construction and finish grading, and leading the design, shop drawings, fabrication, and installation of a series of steel barriers.

The overall design was meant to create a vast array of experiences (climbing, crawling, running, jumping, walking, etc). In order to accomplish this, a canyon was created through the center of the site via two long concrete retaining walls. On top of this, steel climbing members span the canyon and extend beyond to encourage a nearly limitless set of opportunities for playing, hiding, crawling, etc. 

The concrete walls (dubbed "the walrus") were intricately detailed with imprinted and extruded designs to encourage climbing, tracing, tactile stimuli, niches and ledges for play with small objects (action figures, matchbox cars, placing rocks, etc), and visual intrigue.

The steel barriers were added much later in the process as a necessity to comply with safety requirements. Each of the four barriers is specifically tailored to the situation (heigh, length, angles, etc) and was fabricated via steel tube stock and perforated sheet steel. In order to cut down on heat gain in the hot desert summers, a special paint was applied to seal the material and ensure a constant safe temperature.

The 19 person "Studio Play" was a fifth year studio led by Professor Chris Trumble at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona. The process began in August of 2011 and was completed in the summer of 2012.

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Status: Built
Location: South Tucson, AZ, US
My Role: Designer and on site lead of concrete walls, lead designer/head of fabrication and installation of steel barriers, on site grading leader
Additional Credits: Studio Play
University of Arizona - CALA