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Play on Display: Tracing Encounters with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s Expo 67 Playground


Play on Display: Tracing Encounters with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s Expo 67 Playground

Doiron, Gabrielle (2017) Play on Display: Tracing Encounters with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s Expo 67 Playground. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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In mid-century North America, increasing interest in the designed environment, widespread acceptance of child-centered pedagogy, and a growing generation of baby boomers resulted in a dynamic period of material production for children, as well as a changing landscape of public playspaces. This was evident at Expo 67 in Montreal, where the Canadian government put a playground and the visiting children within it on display. Designed by landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, this playground was meant to serve as a model for playspaces in Canada. Drawing from the adventure playground model popular in postwar Denmark and the U.K., as well as her training in modern landscape architecture, Hahn Oberlander designed a natural environment with loose parts as an antidote to the “concrete and asphalt jungle effect” of the city child’s living environment. This thesis traces the design and conceptual development of the playground, clarifying Hahn Oberlander’s vision. It also considers the implications of the playground’s role as an exhibition by discussing its reception. It concludes by comparing the intended use and reception of the playground with its actual use, featuring first-hand accounts of playground supervisors and children who played there. Describing how gender factored into the experiences of children in the playground, as well as how children’s play was framed by journalists, this thesis demonstrates that, despite efforts to make it such, the playground was not a gender-neutral space.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Doiron, Gabrielle
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:15 April 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Hammond, Cynthia
ID Code:982431
Deposited On:05 Jun 2017 15:41
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:55
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