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Can We Design New Spaces in the City for Teenagers to Occupy on Their Own Terms?

26 Jul 2022


vPPR Architects, 2021



Too old for the playground, too broke for the cafe, too young for the pub; teenagers are ignored in the design of public spaces. The increasing marginalisation of teenagers has been exacerbated by the pandemic and young people have even fewer places to go. Since 2010, about a hundred youth clubs have been shut down in London alone. Teenagers no longer have a space to call their own. Our call to action is to listen to teenagers and to what their hopes are for public space.

Play with(out) Grounds simultaneously references a playground for young children and the adult world of Hieronymous Bosch’s 15th-century painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. It alludes to the contradictions of public life faced by this ‘in between’ age group, and allows for a great deal of interpretation in its use. The structure also acts as a framework for a soundscape of interviews with young people from diverse backgrounds, making the ignored voices of teenagers heard.



vPPR Architects was set up in 2009 by Tatiana von Preussen, Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds. The studio believes in the continual crossover between art and architecture, seeking creative solutions that strengthen communities, no matter how large or small. The practice is working on public housing, cultural and mixed use projects and has recently completed a multi-generational playscape in Higham Park in London.

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