Huts, Temples, Castles, 1969/2023

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Huts, Temples, Castles, 1969/2023

In 1969, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg went to Amsterdam to take pictures in Jongensland, an adventure ground on a post-war wasteland, to document the freedom, creativity and independence of children and young people, spending their after-school-time there. These wonderful, inspiring images, show how important physical space is to learn how to participate in a community and take responsibility for one another through group dynamics and risks assessment.

Jongensland (later on renamed to Youthland), created just after the Second World War, could only be reached by crossing a canal on a boat. There, children were encouraged to build their own space for adventure and hanging out, using scrap building materials to knock together dens and sheds, tending chickens, rabbits and goats, making bonfires etc.

This kind of adventure playground was a deliberate attempt by a group of enlightened European planners and child psychologists to undo the authoritarian ideas of child development that were integral to fascism. In their new vision post war waste lands would become places of free play and creativity. In Jongensland’s case it was the city’s police department that established it, to give local working-class boys somewhere to play where they wouldn’t cause trouble.

There are a total of 80 images in this body of work.

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