Animal Factory: kids take over public spaces

Elements of urban furniture for outdoor public spaces, but also a playground for kids, chairs and a small open-air gym.

This article was originally published on Domus 1062, November 2021.

Animal Factory by Luca Boscardin, inaugurated last August in the NDSM-werf north Amsterdam neighbourhood, is a collection of “highly interactive urban signs”: elements of urban furniture for outdoor public spaces, but also a playground for kids, chairs and a small open-air gym. And also, a meeting place, where visitors can tie up their bikes and maybe even go skateboarding. It all depends who is looking at it and, above all, who is using it.

In the footsteps of the best design traditions that engage people, kids and public spaces (for example, without going too far, Aldo Van Eyck’s experience in Amsterdam), the animal factory designed by Boscardin gives users a lot of room for their imagination, creativity and freedom.

Animal Factory: highly interactive urban signs
Animal Factory / the illustrator’s sketchbook with drawings of animals. Photo Tim Stet

“The design was born in 2020 following the first lockdown: while the city streets were empty and nature slowly reclaimed its urban spaces,” states the talented illustrator and designer of toys, who over the past decade has lived in the Dutch capital. “Amsterdam, usually full of tourists, was suddenly empty and silent. So I imagined wild animals giving life to a former industrial area north of the city overlooking the IJ canal, repurposed over the past decades into a creative space, with designer and artist ateliers. The four folded and painted tubular metal structures are life-size presences that create meeting points after many months of isolation,” he continues. “I find the idea of meeting up next to a crocodile or a giraffe as being suggestive and fun”.

The collection takes shape in one of the illustrator’s sketchbooks; in his attempt to simplify and abstract, he was inspired “by children’s illustrations and their way of thinking with symbols, free from academic structures”. “Masters in this, among the many, were Saul Steinberg and Charley Harper,” he explains. “I really like looking at Picasso’s sculptures and Calder’s mobiles”. Many other animals are still on paper: camels, ostriches, whales, gnus, zebras, and turtles. Even huge dinosaurs. “They could find a home in the near future,” Boscardin reveals, “in new city parks in Italy and abroad”.

Animal Factory
Luca Boscardin
Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands
Tim Stet
Completion date:

Latest on Design

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram