Sprout Toys, Enhance Creativity, Craft Opportunities.
Concept proposal for Sprouting Minds: an open call for
renewal of Isola Pepe Verde Playground in Milan

Masterplan of intervention

Una Fantastica” 1 // Design principle
From the more informal to the most structured ones, games and toys might be opportunities to move within fantastic narration having little to do with reality; but they are also used as learning tools and effective ways to address real word issues. The proposal works within a definition of playing which keeps together fantasy and reality, aiming at designing a game and a space for open creativity, intended as the main tool for effective learning. In particular, in a creative activity the process of imagination itself is the real object of learning, rather than the final result; as Enzo Mari writes, in a game what matters is the path, not the results.
STECCO therefore starts from the question how to build a space whose constraints are “loose” enough to render the creative process possible? And it aims at creating a space, which enables processes, rather than
pre-setting closed results.

STECCO // The project
The unreadable books by Bruno Munari don’t provide text nor images, but only the structure of a book and its primary components; the 16Animals16Fishes, by Enzo Mari, only consists in 32 objects which aren’t related by any given narration. In both cases, the game is conceived to enable a process and does it by providing few
playing ingredients.
Following these experiences, STECCO means to be a game, with no given narrative nor pre-set rules, only made of simple playing objects and a game board. In this sense, it enables the creation of always new
narrations and principles, allowing users to develop creativity and to learn, by defining a personal way of playing according to their own evolutionary stage.
The project involves the whole area of IPV and enhances the already existing spatial and functional organisation, by inserting a timber structure, instead of the existing fence, and by rethinking the floor pattern. The three parts of IPV are conceived as gradients of a unique space: the playground as the most public and “active” area, the
eco-box space as a collective and educational place, and finally the garden as a more intimate environment; following the character of IPV, green is both the main object of learning and the main differentiation among the spaces.
Among the three areas, that of the playground is where STECCO more clearly becomes a space of creativity. As a game box, the timber structure contains several objects, which can be moved freely in and out of the frame, opening it when in use and closing it back when not. The objects, as game components, have different shapes and work as actants, triggering indeed a wide range of uses3. The floor, as a game board, is designed as a free area, where different dots are the only “loose” traces to build up new narrations.

(No) instructions for use // How does it work
With the aim to be the space for creativity and learning, STECCO does not impose any fixed use nor spatial configuration, but rather becomes the tool for open processes at different scales.
Within the whole space of IPV, STECCO indeed is the object of a three-phases building process, which includes the progressive demolition and reconstruction of the playground, the eco-box area and the garden. In this sense, the project’s realisation represents an opportunity for community engagement, responsibility and participation, which already are key features of IPV; so that one may think to STECCO as an ongoing process, an open occasion to think and be engaged in the city environment: what if it would be demolished and rebuilt
every xx years?
At the smaller scale of the playground area, STECCO enables everyday processes of creativity, kids may play and move the objects in and out the timber structure, and these objects become the characters of new stories
to be created on the free pages of the playground.
STECCO therefore changes together with the kids using it everyday, and with the community that builds it year by year. In this sense it represents, in its components and as a whole, a site- and time-specific project,
proposing an alternative to the rigid spatial and functional organisation of the nearby city.