Chilean architecture practice Elemental Studio has set a new standard for children's playgrounds with its new addition to Santiago Metropolitan Park. A central aim of the project, sited on the San Cristobal hill, is to help improve Santiago's social landscape through great quality public space for all.
Echoing Chile's strong geography that spans tall mountains, deserts, green forests and long beaches, the park offers a varied geography that leads up an 80m-tall hill. An irrigation canal runs through it, connecting the north neighbourhoods of Santiago that sit behind the park to the main water supply.
This replaced an earlier canal running around the park, which was subsequently left dry and neglected. The redesign of this disused canal, called Canal del Carmen, was the project's starting point, initiated by architect Ricardo Torrejon who went on to work at Elemental, bringing the scheme with him.
The team have also produced a welcoming topography with a slope comfortable enough for a stroll and a playground that is safe, but also fun.
Sitting at the bottom of the park, the playground marks the entrance towards green areas, and is connected to the nearby zoo. The design includes a selection of games, water features and sitting areas, made mainly out of metal, wood and concrete.
One of Santiago's rare public outdoors areas (the city offers 4 sq m of public space per inhabitant, as opposed to London's 44 sq m, for example) this playground is planned to enhance people's quality of life in the area.
Creating a large piece of game-orientated green that is thoughtfully designed and free for all to use, the architects aim to not only secure a great playground for the children but also to create a 'shortcut towards equality', improving the life of hundreds of Santiago residents.