Play Yard at Winter Residence: Arizona

Play Yard at Winter Residence: Arizona

Location: Tucson, Arizona

Year Completed: 2009

Square Footage: 1400 sq ft


Photographer: Chris Richards

Structural Engineer: Mike Harris


Contractor: Repp Design and Construction, Ilc.


When asked to design a play yard for a growing family, we looked inward to our earliest childhood memories. We came to realize that we adults forget how to play. Having forgotten, we soon come to believe that play is found around colored plastic contraptions resembling adult stuff.

For a nimble mind however, play is about soaring in one’s imagination and dwelling in the land of infinite possibilities.

The only available site for the play yard was right in front of the newly remodeled residence. Fearing the spoilage of our own previous work, the question was in how to create a fun space that would play well with the sophisticated newly-remodeled home.

Using horizontal lines, platonic forms, and simple terracing, we responded to the topography and the need to place the children’s space adjacent to their bedrooms. Three terraces step down the hill – the highest accommodates a small herb garden and shaded canopy for all to sit, enjoy the view and supervise the play. The second level is a ball space for running and rolling on turf. The lowest level has a recycled rubber play surface, sandbox and a large steel cube playhouse.

This slatted steel “shade cube” straddles the corner, hovering quietly above the desert - some days its a boat, sometimes it’s a stage, a store or spaceship, its purpose revealed only by its imagination engineers inside.

The overall design derives from the idea of simple forms, sturdy materials, and vast space for creative play. The space does not prescribe any activities. It is an open-ended vessel for play at any age.

What we created is a backdrop for imaginative play. We created a space for filling; filling with the joy of laughter, with the sparks of pretending, with the patter of running, hiding and jumping.

We should all remember to play.



Grand Award by Custom Home Magazine, Outdoor Spaces, Play Yard (2010)

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