P.S. 200 - Project Oasis
(click to enlarge)
Map of Harlem with the New Jersey Palisades in foreground
Seats as blocks in Harlem
Seat detail
Triborough Bridge
Garden State garden

A committee of parents and teachers wanted this playground to complement the school's curriculum focus - the history and literature of Harlem. Of special interest was the Harlem Renaissance, whose spirit lives on in the area's physical environment and cultural institutions.

We again turned to idea of the floor map as an organizing framework for learning and play by laying down and painting a rubber safety surface representing a swath of geography extending from Queens and the Triborough Bridge climbing structure to New Jersey and a Hudson River water play area and Garden State garden.

The playground was built by a crew of community construction trainees picked by the P.T.A. Murals about the history of Harlem were painted by students on plywood panels attached to the chain link fence - an outdoor Studio Museum of Harlem. The seats for an Apollo theater stage and outdoor classroom represented residential blocks which were painted by students to resemble the facades of their own houses.

The creation of the playground became part of the curriculum itself.