javier molinero + bernat ivars convert old parking lot into temporary playground in valencia

Nov 08, 2021

situated next to the santiago apóstol del cabanyal school in valencia, spain, the ‘santiago area’ is a playfully-shaped playground occupying a former parking lot. the project was completed by architects javier molinero and bernat ivars after the valencia city council temporarily handed over the site to them. the result is an inclusive, versatile and environmentally friendly space for play, learning and gathering.

molinero and ivars based their design concept on a participatory workshop led by fent estudi and nautae to gather insights from the school children and locals. they concluded that the playground must be open to everyone in the neighborhood, can be utilized throughout the year, and trigger a desire to host different kinds of activities. more importantly, the building process must be open and collaborative. ‘we made the most of the action so that the students of the school participated in the design process – from the realization of small models to the final painting workshop’, explain the architects. see molinero’s works here, and ivars’ works here.

thanks to the participatory program, the premises of the design team and its approach to production/ construction were perfectly aligned with the wishes of the community. these premises included radical reuse, designing for movement, maximizing vegetation, materials that reduce environmental footprint and above all, having fun in the process.

with budget conditions and limited deadlines, the team divided the available space into four zones: an outdoor classroom, a small ‘marine’ forest, some orchards and a sports court. this arrangement offers a maximum variety of spaces within a limited surface area. starting with the outdoor classroom, the architects shaped it as a circular wooden structure that articulates the space and doubles as a play area when not in use for learning. its tessellated façade, combined with its circular shape, maximizes the use of the wood as well as physical movement within the outdoor classroom.

aside from spatial organization, the architects considered sustainability and green design as key components of the project. on one hand, for the outdoor classroom, the team used poplar and fir wood to reduce solar radiation and ultimately fill the structure with climbing plants. the ‘marine forest’, on the other hand, repurposes disused buoys donated by valència marina into giant flowerpots to plant trees on the site. gardens to grow vegetables and recovered benches finally complete the space as a welcoming and temporary playground for all.

project info:

name: santiago area

location: valencia, spain  designers: javier molinero, bernat ivars

photography: millena villalba

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom