Beirut - Lebanon : New concepts for an unpredictable future the challenges of the past year gave designers every reason to recede into the shadows, but creativity won't be denied.

If anything, they are finding inspiration in global upheaval. More than just surmounting challenges, many are looking ahead to a greener, healthier and more equitable world.

After trauma - playgrounds with a purpose.

The Aug. 4 explosion that tore through Beirut damaged an estimated 6.000 buildings, including more than 150 schools.

This left Etienne Bastormagi, Sandra Richani and Nada Borgi, local architects and urban planners, wondering how they could help their city as children prepare to return to classes.

Their Let's play initiative, will rebuild playgrounds at six schools affected by the explosion, with help from other architects and volunteers.

Construction of the first, at Ecole Secodaire des Filles de la Charite school in Achrafieh, just began.

The public-private initiative also reconsiders what a playground can be, incorporating materials, large-scale objects and landscapes that can be experienced or manipulated in more than one way.

Rather than jungle gyms, swing sets or slides, the spaces will have colorful platforms, canopies and pathways that encourage directionless play.

Such ambiguities are meant to promote experimentation and social interaction outside of the class-room.

The team also hopes that these new ways to play will help children confront the trauma of 2020, blast and coronavirus pandemic alike, by allowing them to feel safe again in their city.

''The therapy effect is not just for the kids,'' Mr. Bastormagi added. ''I think it starts with us.''


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