Durable, cheap, and relatively safe, one young architect is utilizing some of India’s 100 million yearly thrown-away tires to design colorful playgrounds for schools that need them.
Operating under the philosophy that play is a child’s right, Anthill Creations, a non-profit run by Pooja Rai, has so far built 283 different play spaces using almost entirely painted tires.
Located in Bengaluru, most of the play spaces Ms. Rai designs feature large tire sculptures of cars, buildings, or animals, paired with more classic elements of swings, seesaws, and jungle gyms.
All of the spaces are built with discarded tires that are collected, cleaned, and inspected for anything that might pose a threat to the kids. Next they are painted, and drilled with holes once or twice to ensure rainwater doesn’t collect inside.
“We live in a world where play, such an essential part of growing up, is now viewed as a luxury and even thought of as unnecessary,” Rai told the Christian Science Monitor.
As India is the world’s only nation that has legislated mandatory charity upon corporations, much of Rai’s work is done through donations, with a small play space costing around $800, and large ones costing up to four-times as much.
The second most populous country on Earth really does go through a lot of tires, and recycling them as playground infrastructure offers the unique chance to teach kids the idea of “reduce, reuse, recycle” long before they become consumers themselves—and a perusal through images of Anthill Creations’ creations reveals all kinds of shapes familiar in bespoke recycling projects.
Constructing the play spaces, like the funding stage, is all done by volunteers—800 of whom have have so far been involved in building.
The play grounds go up not only in schools, but in public parks and even refugee camps, and they are themed to what children in the area want—whether that’s a specialty space for blind kids, nautical-themed installations for coastal communities, or even a boxing-ring instead of a jungle gym, with tires instead of punching bags.
“It has been a really gratifying and joyful experience to be part of Anthill Creations and to bring smiles and play to thousands of kids,” said Vikas Keshri, a volunteer.
“We often forget how vulnerable these growing years can be,” Rai told CSM. “The right to play should be considered critical to a child’s cognitive growth, physical, and emotional well-being—we believe that it is indeed a basic human right.”