University of Houston Community Design Resource Center
Creative spaces for play are central to the well-being of our children and youth. Over the last two decades, as housing costs have increased in cities across the nation, apartment complexes (often outside the central core) have become home to more and more families with children, particularly aging complexes. Many of these complexes were designed primarily for young professionals and thus have few amenities for children and families. In many cases, former swimming pools have been filled in to prevent a tragedy, yet nothing to accommodate the needs of children and youth have taken their place. We want to change this by collaborating with residents and apartment owners to create innovative places to play in and around a Houston apartment complex. Our goal is to design and implement an extraordinary "playce" and to create a toolbox to share with others across our city and beyond, on how play can be incorporated into apartment complexes. We believe that the success of our past projects such as the Zona de Juego clearly indicate our capacity to create new models for how play can be integrated into our city and become central to the lives of the people in our communities.
The OX4D project will be designed and implemented with the residents, children and youth of our partner community Oxford Place, to create an inviting, wondrous, convenient, challenging, shared, and unifying play space in the complex, one that tells the story of the place, brings people together, and is bright and fun. Oxford Place, a public housing community with 250 units, is home to approximately 500 low-income children. Informal play is already occurring at Oxford Place. Youth and children stage competitive foot races, play on porches and move around the complex freely. We believe that by observing where and how play is occurring now we can create a design in collaboration with the community that meets their needs. If awarded, our goal is to work directly with the kids who call the complex home to create a project that directly responds to their desires, imagination, and vision a "playce" that truly belongs to them.
OX4D will be the starting point for the creation of a toolkit to enhance play in apartment complexes across Houston and elsewhere. For us, this is an important goal as Houston has over 200,000 apartments in large complexes, many of which are home to families and children who live below poverty, and many of which have few amenities that serve their needs.
- Susan Rogers