The Disappearing Playgrounds of Amsterdam

Art and Activism (series)


In this series, students from the Graduate School of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) explore the complex overlaps and conversations between art and activism. They seek to illustrate how artistic practices often speak to the urgency of protest and activism, and how activism intertwines with the demands of art. In the form of close analysis, interviews, and creative responses, these works trace the prevalent links between art and activism through the relationships between space, the everyday, and explicit or underlying modes of resistance.

These podcast episodes were created by students in the masters course Art and Activism, and were originally published here.


For some time now something started disappearing from the city, swiftly, quietly and unnoticed. Going all the way back to 1947, after the end of World War II, a young architect, Aldo van Eyck, designed the first ever public playground in Amsterdam. During the 70’s the city contained 700 of Van Eyck’s playgrounds, in 2002 only 20 remained. The playground, or play space, is characterized by open space, minimal, abstract forms and concrete elements that blend with the surrounding. In his book Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga suggests that “in play there is something ‘at play’ which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action. All play means something” (1). Taking as object of study van Eyck’s plagrounds, this episode explores the notion of play and what is “at play” and offers a commentary on the ideas taken from Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.


Research & Script

Jason Clark, Sophie Mulder, Anastasia Simoni Stergioula, Oscar Talbot, and Seb Wigdel-Bowcott


Anastasia Simoni Stergioula, Oscar Talbot, and Seb Wigdel-Bowcott


Jason Clark


  • Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. London, 1974.
  • Bogost, Ian. Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of
    Games. Basic Books, 2016.
  • Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. The Beacon Press,
  • Kollarova, Denisa, & Anna van Lingen. Aldo Van Eyck. Seventeen Playgrounds. Lecturis,
  • Withagen, Rob and Simone R Caljouw. “Aldo van Eyck’s Playgrounds: Aesthetics,
    Affordances, and Creativity.” Frontiers in Psychology, 4 Jul. 2017, Accessed 16 February 2020.

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