Play in Historic Sacred Spaces: Modular Ecclesiastic Landscape Furniture for Children
Program: children should have the opportunity for play during holy masses in the church There are many young parents in the community of the Sacred Heart Jesuit Church, who willingly take part in the programs of the church together with their children. With the aim to fulfill the need of this particular audience, a room was built some years ago, where small children could play during liturgical programs. Local leadership of the Society of Jesus commissioned us to rethink the existing state of the room. Challenge: The magistery of a historic sacred public building and the freedom of play We defined three issues to be settled during the design process. The first challenge was the narrow dimensions of the room that incited us to make as much area accessible for play as possible, while providing the required amount of storage space as well. The second concern was that the existing floor did not provide adequate heat and comfort to be used as a space for play. Our aim was to find a way to design a continuous flat surface where the children can move freely. The third issue did not concern use, but the relationship between the built environment and the furnishing: regular furniture would have felt misplaced and out-of-scale in an interior with vaulted ceiling and complex geometry. Based on the above mentioned issues we came up with the following design question: how can we create a space within the church, where the religious code of conduct is replaced by free movement and play, while at the same time the spiritual experience in the sacred physical space is not compromised? Project: Softening the church with a modular foam landscape We wanted to ensure the comfort of the children and their parents as well as to provide storage for toys, but letting the architecture of the historic church prevail. We designed a surface of use that filled the whole floor area of the room that consisted of upholstered cuboids made of foam and storage boxes. The hardness of the foam elements provided adequately solid surface for playing with toys. The units are easily movable, so various arrangements can be built simply. So the intervention provided not only a new elevated floor level for kids to play, but the installation itself became a toy as well. At the same time the interior of the church remained untouched. This is the way the landscape made of foam elements tries to balance between the eternal stability of the building and the ever- changing dynamic space of play.
Author's presentation text
Gergely Hory, Zoltán Major and Péter Müllner formed Partizan Architecture in 2013. We design simple, unconventional spatial interventions aiming to extend and develop unexpected values for the everyday usability.. Through our projects we investigate habits and conventions towards the built environment in order to challenge the status quo of the relationship between people and the material world around them. We use design as a strategy for experimentation: we are in constant search for new ways of how our space can be used. Our projects provide active lived experience for people through use regardless of being installed in an art space or implemented in various situations of everyday life. In reality people constantly alter their environment through mental and physical appropriations personally in order to suit their needs and make their world inhabited: they produce their own space by their activities. With our projects we only want to empower them with means that expand possibilities.