recycled playspace

If I were designing an indoor playground, and I happened to be as clever as Tali Buchler, the Outside the box indoor playground, installed at the community center in Zichron Yaakov, Israel, is precisely what I would have created.

I would take as many cardboard boxes as I could find, take them neatly closed, and proclaim them a giant set of building blocks. (I might have the kids paint them. I might also put a few pieces of rattly junk inside the boxes for mysterious sound effects and further enticement.) All with the hope that this would result.

And then this:

And then, given the added incentive from having a community center that is in the heart of Israeli wine-making country where I could count on a generous donation of corks, I’d invest some serious precision drilling time to make this giant “cork-pixel wall” – a “5 meter long by 2 meter tall plywood panel, with 4000 holes that can be filled with colored wine cork caps.”

Practical playfulness inviting whole-body, whole-mind, whole community creativity.

Can you tell how much I love this?

via Playscapes


  1. Lily Belland on April 18, 2012 at 8:37 am

    At the daycare I used to work at, they had bricks made out of cardboard. The kids had so much fun building castles and knocking them down. The bricks were only a quarter of the size of the boxes in the picture, but they were sturdy enough to stand on – by accident of course 😉

    Here they are: I didn’t realize they were so expensive. I’m sure regular cardboard boxes would work too. Love the idea of putting stuff in them for sound effects. Different sizes would give a Tetris-like effect.

    When I was a kid, one of my friends parents saved up milk cartons and folded in the tops to make blocks. They had enough to build an igloo in their basement! They must have been saving up for a long time. LOL

    Love and laughter,

    • Bernie DeKoven on April 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

      One of the events I designed for Playday in the Parkway – an event in Philadelphia for over 1/4-million people, in celebration of the bicentennial – involved some 200 cardboard cartons. It was one of my favorites – people coming together, building amazing things (really giant gothic arches and forts and stuff) and then smashing them down (safely, even though there were little kids, no one got hurt). Boxes – the Lord’s gift to fun.

      • Bernie DeKoven on April 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

        I forgot to mention one of the best parts… As the day progressed, the boxes became more and more, well, flattened. And some kids started using them for chariots. And I bet if we were in a different place at a different time, we could’ve ended the whole thing with a bonfire!

  2. Laura Scheinholtz on April 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Wonderful! LOVE seeing this internationally. For an additional national reference, check out our annual Madison PlayDay which debuted in 2006:
    (main picture page:

    While ‘Construction Junction’, the pile of 200 boxes (collected from local businesses, reused, and then recycled post-event) is just one of many events reusing recycled materials each year, it is almost always the most popular. It is fascinating to watch that structure change from a super tall tower to a house to a train. One year, a bunch of kids and parents built a restaurant with a drive-thru window! It really is simplicity that begets creativity.

    P.S. – Madison PlayDay has grown and now has a sister Day in Mankato, MN which not only incorporates recycled materials, but natural ones as well, taking place in a local park each year (updated website coming soon)!

    • Bernie DeKoven on April 18, 2012 at 11:59 am

      this makes me SO happy! thanks for sharing this, Laura. thanks for the playfulness and the love and the gift and all you are doing to help people receive it.

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