Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on October 12, now a national holiday in Spain as well as the name of a medical center where the pediatric patients had no outdoor space for their own playful explorations. There was, however, an underutilized rooftop at the Hospital Materno-Infantil del Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre in Madrid, and that stark expanse is what the Fundación Juegaterapia—a nonprofit that got its start supplying hospital-bound children with PlayStations—approached Moneo Brock about transforming. An imaginative, sky-high recreation area is the result.
At the outset of the two-year project, Belén Moneo and Jeffrey Brock, who donated their time, met the children and asked them to draw their ideal playground. The 8,600-square-foot area is now a veritable wonderland paved with overlapping circles in bright red, pink, orange, and green rubber, micro-cement, and artificial turf. Attractions include a twisting path for toy bikes, a miniature soccer field, a fountain alive with fish, and swings shaded beneath a dome. Plants were chosen to withstand the strong sun.
Sounds like child’s play? The site actually presented significant challenges. The roof had to be reinforced with steel beams, and mechanicals couldn’t be moved, so they became part of the design. Climate-control machinery, for example, was painted grass-green to blend in, and ventilation pipes took on cheery red stripes to resemble candy canes.