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    The playground of the future


    Maureen Quinlan

    Maureen Quinlan, a lighting writer and blogger based in Boston, Massachusetts, heard the buzz about a new playground in the city, a playground for adults. She visited the swings one July evening and was surprised by an experience not evoking her childhood, but providing something different.

    The giant rings hanging from a canopy didn’t look much like the swings I grew up around. With a polished white surface, glowing LED lights, and room enough for two, the swings, known as Swing Time 2.0, felt like something from the future. And as soon as I started swinging, I realized the entire experience was much different than the black rubber swings of my youth.


    The swings, at The Lawn on D in Boston’s innovation district, felt graceful and grown up. I didn’t feel like a kid again, but more like an adult who missed the element of play. As a child, I loved that feeling in my stomach when I swung back with my eyes closed and gained speed with each pump of my legs. These futuristic swings glided through the thick summer humidity, rather than hurtling me toward the sky.

    The Lawn on D balances the activities we cherished in childhood with the maturity of adulthood in an experimental landscape that brings the community of Boston together in a business district near the Boston Harbor. The 2.7-acre outdoor lawn provides adults, college students, and children with lawn games, Swing Time 2.0, art pieces, food trucks, sitting space, and live music.


    “The concept of Swing Time deals with the human instinct for play. This instinct is socialized out of adults, which stemmed our interest in bringing an element of play back to adults,” said Eric Höweler, of Höweler + Yoon, Swing Time architect and designer.


    With LED lights inside the rings, the swings change color depending on their speed and height. With higher and faster swinging, the lights flash from green to blue. When all twelve swings are in use, the lawn looks like a light show, adding another dimension to the experience.


    After a successful first run in 2014, Höweler + Yoon wanted to take the project off the grid by installing solar panels on the canopy above the swings, prompting the revamp of Swing Time.


    I arrived just before sunset, and the haziness of the day was illuminated with the subtle glow of the swings. The integration of the lights into a basic joy from childhood and the neutral-energy initiative helped me to see the future of the playground and the urban environment. With light and sustainable projects, the city-dweller like me can enjoy her surroundings with some elements of the suburbs.

    It might not have been the back yard of my childhood, but The Lawn on D and Swing Time 2.0 is the adult playground I didn’t even know I was looking for.

    Swing Time 2.0 is open at Boston’s Lawn on D through Oct. 12, 2015, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday. For more information, go to website.