When Go Play! announced a competition to design an innovative playground for 1,000 refugee children along the border of Thailand and Burma, Dutch designer AnneMarie van Splunter thought of old car tires. To be specific, she thought of a playground made entirely out of reused tires on a bamboo frame, made in the shape of a tree with expanding roots…
Though in my opinion it looks more like a squid, and has some practical problems, the design won the contest’s Honorable Mention for Innovation.
Although van Splunter and her advising artist Peter Verhaar wanted to avoid the use of metal (thus the bamboo frame), their environmental leanings were trumped by physics — it turns out that a steel frame would be preferable for safety and durability reasons.
The second issue is the durability of the tires themselves — after a lifetime of supporting cars the tropical heat is cause for concern that they would have to be replaced at some point.
But those concerns aside, the RubberTree is commendable for its creative upcycling of old tires, and for the eye-catching originality of the playground. While it may not be built in Thailand, the team is looking for a commission in its native (and cooler) Netherlands, where various parties have expressed interest in seeing it realized.