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18.04.2017 - Ausgabe: 2/2017

The Dominoes project

By Gaston Gaitan (theleisureway)


Theleisureway was fortunate enough to be invited by our client in Alcobendas, Madrid, to bring our experience and know-how to the table with the objective of creating a vertical play area for children.

The intervention was a chance for an integral rethinking of the square, an opportunity to create a meeting point, a focus which fitted in architecturally with a wall space of around 12 meters in length.

It was clear that this type of brief had to have a series of additional elements. As a family attraction the project needed to respond to the community and the demographics of the area. We wanted parents and kids to visit the mall as a day out, as an emotional and physical experience.

TLW is known for its “togetherness” which is really an expression of the type of relationships we are excited about developing. This concept of “togetherness” is a thread which runs through our work. It brings results and more importantly, brings emotional value.

Following our clearly defined phases moving towards the class of bespoke solution that shapes our leisure projects includes a client intervention which underpins theleisureway’s process. Project purpose, the scope of the intervention etc. all fall within our project definition. The client brief, that all important moment, is the start of our sculpting of the project.

The Dominoes project had a wish list of objectives with the balance between site-specific characteristics, the solution being necessarily in harmony with the existing elements, along with a spectrum of emotional values such as creating a wow effect and becoming a talking point for the local community.


Uniqueness as a solution

The phases and process that TLW has built and employ are unique and internationally project-proven. They lead to uniqueness as a solution. In addition, we have to remind ourselves that the communication between clients and theleisureway is also very singular. We work as partners towards a finished project.


People Projects

You mentioned that theleisureway brings “emotional value” to a project – Could you expand?

Sure, it’s often so much easier to talk about tangible values with their corresponding dimensions, material and footprints. It becomes a little more complicated to talk about the intangible value of an emotion-driven visit which brings value to a project.

One way, we believe, is to study and know our guests who will visit the intervention. We work to find out who they are and what they are looking for, and then the “intangible” suddenly becomes very real – we connect with the people to make “people projects”

Having the brief takes us forward to the observation and collection of information; we really roll our sleeves up here getting on-site with a study of the catchment area, getting to know the context first hand.

The TLW team while working to design an attractive children’s game which would be integrated into the existing architecture of the zone, decided on a simple structure with a strong visual identity.

The intervention in the form of a set of dominoes, some 12 meters long by 6 meters high, contains a variety of climbing games within the pieces allowing children to pass through the whole unit connected by a series of platforms, ladders and nets.

The domino concept is sustainable in its attraction, in that its real beauty is in the child’s imagination. Every day this project changes from within, as each child reinvents the game through their interaction. The kids sustain the project and push it forward.

A variety of materials were considered during the concept development. One of the key decisions here was to employ perforated, lacquered, stainless steel sheets as this would allow for a lighter feel to an otherwise quite imposing form while at the same time permitting natural light to filter through- illuminating the interior. The perforations also help to ventilate the interior. This decision gave us a strong visual block which we punctuated with circular, methacrylate coloured windows. Respecting the surrounding greenery, our materials were to be resistant and structurally solid as this was an outdoor project.


What were some of the other aspects you would highlight?

The technical process really focuses and details certain elements with an on-site analysis of the area of intervention. Remember that the object had to have a proper and considered relationship to an existing wall. An additional factor was the marrying of the object with the adjacent plants.

Furthermore, one thing that is clear is that an efficient and smooth, installation is key to a successful project; clients need the guarantee provided by our technical team. The dominoes piece, while being a bespoke, theleisureway solution was installed in just 24 hours with the minimum on-site interference; this was possible due to the modular nature of the solution. The result of the phase-following creative steps we follow, allowed for a trouble-free piecing together on site.

Within each piece of the dominoes structure there is an activity with its own characteristics, for example one unit contains a number of vertical cords and “steps”. The children work through this maze passing from one level to another helping them to develop their sense of balance coordination and have fun!

Muscles and friendships are also developed as the children climb the metal ladder connecting levels. We are talking about an exercise which is strengthening and also builds kids’ agility.

Security here is underwritten by a metal cage which envelops the ladder, the solution also adds to the modern minimalist look of the piece.

Once on the next level, the children find themselves negotiating various challenges of netting made up of woven cord. Between climbing, kids can rest on the platforms of netting and connect with their friends.

This type of social interaction should not be underestimated. Things have changed so dramatically in the obligations that children have these days and perhaps that carefree image of long summer days, of picnics in the country and free time is somewhat nostalgic now. Leisure for kids has to fit in with many other demands. A few minutes of climbing, resting and meeting new friends is a great objective for our playgrounds. Parents can sit back knowing their children are safe, having fun and they are under control!

As a parent I try to envisage activities and play areas which go beyond a plug-in, turn off perception of leisure. From the Preliminary stage we identified the need for a full-on physical activity for children, one in which going out meant climbing, meeting friends, moving, being healthy –These elements form a part of every parents’ thinking when choosing a day out – choosing a destination.


The how of the “Wow”

The object was attractive to parents and children as was the “surprise” factor of seeing the game made into such a large-scale image. This interplay of timelessness with contemporary materials such as lacquered steel and coloured methacrylate provides an icon for the neighbourhood and creates a buzz within the community.

The “wow” factor will attract guests and can turn around the image of a location. In the case of Alcobendas it leads to increased footfall and dwelling time. When that “wow” is the result of a considered integral solution, sustainability kicks in.

Once an area has become a Third Place, a place which the community sees as part of their leisure life, free from the more lineal and goal driven obligations of home or work – a place to be and to be yourself then you are on to something – You are putting your space on the map – you are creating a community within that community. Thanks to our client and everybody involved in the project you can now find that place in Alcobendas, Madrid.


Photography: theleisureway


Further information:

(+34) 976 226 152

C/Don Jaime I, 41, 2º IZQ,

CP: 50003, Zaragoza, Spain



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