The objective was to design a new experience for the popular playground in Bloomington's Bryan Park, that would engage both children and their parents alike. Unlike traditional static pieces of equipment, the dynamism of the new design would sustainably engage children through offering ever-changing challenges and inspiration for games. Parents standing on the side-lines are unobtrusively involved in their children's play through driving the movement of the equipment pieces.
The Tomorrow Top - a more dynamic take on the traditional blacktop - is composed of a gridded system of pillars that can translate vertically in both the positive and negative direction to create a myriad of different formations. Parents standing on the periphery of the Tomorrow Top can be involved in and supervise their children's play through dictating which formations the blacktop will take. Pulling up on one of the pillars in the Control Table corresponds to pulling up a set of pillars in the same relative location on the Tomorrow Top.
The ever-changing terrain of the Tomorrow Top generates new, exciting challenges for children who often get bored of or outgrow static playground equipment. The dynamic nature of the Tomorrow Top inspires children to imagine new types of gameplay that take advantage of Tomorrow Top's dynamism.
Through fieldwork sessions and conducting interviews with parents + children who frequent Bryan Park, my team arrived at the following insights:
- Parents want their children to play with other children so that they can begin building social skills.
- Parents also desire to play, relax + socialize at the park, but their #1 priority is supervising their children.
- Parents recognize other parents who frequent the park, but often don't get to know them due to social barriers.
- Building a sense of community with other parents is essential to making the park a safer and more enjoyable environment for families.
Our concept addresses these insights by creating an environment that brings parents and children together through a joint activity. Through interacting with the Control Table, parents can more easily build social bonds with other parents, while still being able to supervise their children. Parents are still involved in their children's play, but in a less obtrusive way, which allows their children to more easily build social bonds with other children.
The gridded pillar system was a framework that my team used to help simplify the functionality and mechanics of the Tomorrow Top. We envision that future iterations will actually feature more organic forms, which are not only safer form factors for children, but also reminiscent of natural land formations that tend to inspire the adventurous contexts in which games are situated. We envision that the dynamic formations will be accompanied by visualizations loosely reminiscent of different land formations to help spark the imagination of children playing on the Tomorrow Top. As the nature of the visualizations change, new emergent uses and games are expected to arise in parallel.
In addition, there is the opportunity for the Tomorrow Top to act as an open source platform for artists and game designers in the community. Creatives can take advantage of the flexibility and dynamism of the piece to propose new types of visualizations and uses for the community to enjoy.
I collaborated with my team on problem-framing, field research and ideation. Individually, I conducted interviews with research subjects + produced the 3d model, renderings and diagrams seen above.