Over sixty years ago the architect Aldo van Eyck, who weaved outdoor play into the fabric of war-torn Amsterdam, was inspired by seeing how, after a snowfall, children came out of their homes and claimed the city’s spaces for themselves. Even today nothing gets children of all ages out of doors faster, or in greater numbers, than a decent layer of newly fallen snow.
Why is fresh snow such a universal draw? Surely the answer lies in its exceptional qualities as a material for construction and destruction. The invitations, offers and affordances of snow are extensive, inclusive and democratic. Anyone capable of moving their arms and legs can make a snow angel. No assembly instructions are required.
“When it snows, children take over the city: they sleigh, throw snowballs, make snowmen and are more visible than ever. But what a city needs for its children has to be more durable than snow.”
A seasonal reminder of what child-friendliness means from Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck, whose work in postwar Amsterdam has for some years been a source of inspiration for me. Quoted in a piece by Alex Gillian of Public Workshop.
Happy holidays, everyone!