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This Is The Classiest Kids' Play Center We’ve Ever Seen

Look at that slide!

The children of Alcañiz, Spain, are either incredibly lucky or incredibly spoiled. This light-filled, wood-clad modern palace of a building is where many of them play after school. Presumably while eating organic caviar on Marc Newson rocking horses.

It isn’t just the rich conifer wood layered on the floor, walls, and ceiling. Or the copious arched windows and clerestories that invite ribbons of light indoors. It’s the playthings themselves. Have you ever seen such a chic slide? It’s wrapped in wood, for chrissake, as if it were custom-made for the pages of Dwell.

Centro Infantil del Mercado was designed by Barcelona-based Miquel Mariné Núñez and César Rueda Boné, and it occupies a former marketplace in old town Alcañiz. The building has seen countless transformations over the years and was the primary market in town until the 1980s, after a large chunk of the population fled to the suburbs. At that point, "The building was turned into a space without a clear activity," Mariné Núñez tells Co.Design. "It was undergoing constant transformations without real strategy." Recently, local officials undertook an initiative to revitalize the old town. Thus was born the idea to rehab the marketplace and turn it into a civic meeting space. Centro Infantil del Mercado is designed to provide an indoor play area and supplementary educational facilities for children ages 1 to 11.

All that wood might seem like a bad idea for a bunch of hyperactive kids; won’t their grubby little shoes scuff the hell out of it? Mariné Núñez tells us they chose wood and other adaptable materials, such as metal and drywall, to build flexibility into the structure in the off chance—or perhaps likelihood—that the children’s center is not the building’s last incarnation. "We proposed a construction of dry, removable, and reusable materials thinking of the life of the building," he says, "and of facilitating its future transformation."

[Images by José Hevia]

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  • Josep Puche

    Thanks a lot for such an interesting article, Suzanne. We are happy with words like yours about our public buildings in Alcañiz. From: Josep Puche, press officer at Alcañiz City Council.