March 25, 2009

Richard Dattner's Habitot, The Ur-PlayCubes


Wow, awesome. While poking around a bit more on urban planner/architect/playground designer Richard Dattner's PlayCubes concept--which, according to the 2000 monograph of Dattner's work, seems to be doing just fine, thanks--I found this: Habitots.

And this is what we know so far about Habitots: a single photo in the book, with a tiny caption, "the Habitot unit preceded the PlayCubes." Unlike PlayCubes, which are for bigger, orangutan-like kids, the Habitot was smaller, geared for babies and toddlers. It was made out of plywood or MDF--did they have MDF in the mid-1960's?--not fiberglass. And it's clean, easy modularity was somewhat tempered, shall we say, by the need to screw the whole thing together with flat brackets. PITA.

In that sense, then, it reminds me of Build Your Own Living Structures guru Ken Isaacs, who was spending his late 1960's and 70's telling everyone to build his own storage cube systems and dodecahedron-shaped mediation chambers out of plywood. I think this Habitots thing needs a little digging.

UPDATE [& thank you, Google Alerts]:

I just came across your nice blog postings about my father-

This photo is of me and my sister.


Ben Dattner

Hi Greg,

As a practitioner of DDD (Dad Driven Design) I enjoyed your blog.

PlayCubes enjoyed a brief period of distribution and popularity in the 1970's. PlayCubes were manufactured and erected in the US, Canada, UK, Greece, Japan, and other countries (friends sent me photos of installations around the world).

The original PlayCubes were made in fiberglass, in a hand lay-up process, and slowly ceased manufacture due to the cost of that process.

The Habitot unit was a DCU (Dad Constructed Unit) which I personally built for our kids in 1974. It is in storage awaiting the next generation of users.

An exciting new company is considering reissuing both PlayCubes and Habitot in state-of-the-art materials and manufacturing methods.

Stay tuned!



Buy Richard Dattner Architect: Selected and Current Works for around $65 [amazon]

1 Comment

I thought you might like to know that Richard's Habitot will be on exhibit soon at MoMA, in their Century of the Child exhibit. The exhibit should be very interesting.

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