Juguetes de construcción (Escuela de la arquitectura moderna)

Juan Bordes ©
From 18.02.2016 to 15.05.2016at Circulos Belas Artes in Madrid you can visit the exhibition Juguetes de construcción where you can see a part of the great architectural toy collection of the spanish sculptor and professor Juan Bordes. 
From the site: "Esta exposición analiza, a través de planos, bocetos, apuntes y objetos, el influjo de los juguetes de construcción en la historia de la arquitectura moderna. Existe, en opinión del educador suizo Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827), una cierta pulsión infantil por la construcción, por la imitación de edificios con materiales cotidianos. De ahí la fascinación especial, en los niños, hacia los juegos de construcción. Estos comenzaron a fabricarse como derivación de los bloques que desde finales del siglo XVIII se utilizaban para enseñar matemáticas, geometría y dibujo; para visualizar operaciones abstractas.
Los fabricantes advirtieron las extraordinarias posibilidades de  estos nuevos juguetes y comenzaron a producir variantes en madera y cartón, y posteriormente en piedra, metal y plástico. Fue el pedagogo alemán Frederich Froebel (1782–1852) quien introdujo estos juegos en su elaborado programa docente de las escuelas infantiles, en la medida en que ayudaban a explorar en profundidad el razonamiento espacial, el pensamiento analítico y el diseño creativo."

More information here

Future + Toy Design Workshop at UABB - Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale Shenzhen

Conference poster
In June I have been in Shenzhen working on an agreement between the FAUP and A+E Design, a local architectural office. The main idea was creating traineeships program for FAUP students who could travel to China and spend six mouths working in very different professional framework. 
The agreement is almost done, the first group of students will travel to Shenzhen in March 2016 and I must confess that I'm very proud because I consider this agreement as a big step for new relationships between the Faculty of Architecture of Porto and other foreign institutions putting the FAUP in the leading world framework of schools. 
Meanwhile I was there, during a meeting at the Shenzhen Center for Design, they invited me to organize a toy design workshop during the opening week of UABB (Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale Shenzhen). When I got back to Porto I soon start working on this idea and I thought that it would be better to deeply involve the Faculty in the UABB. So from September to December I organized the FAUP participation to the Biennale and 2 conferences  besides the toy design workshop (here the link to the course presentation)... three really crazy months, for sure, but finally everything was done!

The chinese experience was absolutely amazing, from every point of view. Professionally, for sure, it is always a great experience because when we lecture in a different cultural environment, we really learn a lot. But also from the personal point of view it was highly enriching because I met good friends in a fantastic human ambiance. 

Starting with a "long" lecture in order to introduce the students to the main aspects of toy design, the course continued during five days. During this week participants developed their own prototypes and, on Wednesday, we organized a visit to two spaces: a wooden workshop and a toy factory near Shenzhen (near Shenzhen means something like 2,5 hours by car...). A very good experience for the students that finally realized how dolls are made. 

Finally, on friday, we organized a final presentation and each participant presented hits own toys to the audience by a powerpoint presentation. 

Some ideas and models in the very beginning

Some prototypes
Other prototypes

"The Cube" exercise at 2015/16 Architectural Toys course

Also this year I challenged my student in order to face the cube exercise and the results were amazing. I believe, more and more, that this kind of works are fundamental for students that are still far from the real production of the objects. Indeed they very rarely touch and feel the real material and the connection with wood, steel or concrete is limited to a certain patter in Autocad or a texture in some other 3D software.
Also this time the the main rule was that the solid produced should be inscribed or circumscribed in a cube, in other words the cube must be "readable" into the solid. The unique change that I introduced this year is reducing the cube size. Last year was 20 cm and this year was 15, this because the space the all cubes occupy in my office...

MYTHO - mythologická stavebnice / mythological construction set

Last year I lectured at the Pilsen Art Camp a Toy Design course. This year Pilsen is the European Capital of Culure 2015 and when I went back for lecturing again at the ArtCamp 2015 I found a city full of exhibitions and happening. 
Of course some exhibition was about Ladislav Sutnar, his graphic and industrial design works, painting and, for sure, toys. The three exhibitions are part of the project The Return of Ladislav Sutnar which comprises a number of activities, in which Sutnar's work will gradually, during the course of 2015, be presented to the public. But all of them absolutely unmissable.

I must to confess that I felt really happy when, in a collateral exhibition at Pilsen Municipal Gallery, I saw some toys designed by Pavla Boháčová, a student from the last year course, and that was already in production for selling. Mytho, that's the toy's name, is a construction set inspired on mythological figures. Made by colored wood, Mytho in sold in a box with several pieces that allow to build Pegasus, Centaur or Unicorn, among others.

As a teacher is a really great proud when your student start his journey by himself. Is some kind of circle that, finally, reaches its final shape. Congratulation Pavla!

Here the official site: http://www.kutulu.cz

ArtCamp 2015 in Pilsen

One more time I’ll have been in Pilsen at Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of art and design for the ArtCamp 2015. One more time I loved the experience in that inspiring city and school with a great class of students coming from all around the world.
As it happened last year, after a first approach made by lecturing a class about some theoretical topics, students started developing their own proposals with great results.

It is always quite interesting to see how each cultural background can influence the toy design processes. Indeed 11 students from different countries, since Czech Republic to Slovakia, Poland, USA, Japan and China, developed toys that, in different ways, represent their own countries, traditions and personal skills.  

Honorata, from Lodz University of Technology in Poland, developed a toy based on stamps technology. An A4 format box contains paper sheets with trees images that can be completed with leaves, birds, fruits, etc... The final result are images with a high artistic quality also because the gradual ink attenuation during the process.  

Rachel, from USA, is a jewelery designer created a kind of mountable doll house that has a simple and abstract language based on simply volumes and colors. The player can change the configuration and create easily several different building for different scenarios.

Moe, from Japan, was interested in infant toys so she worked on two toys for early ages. One is a rattle with smooth forms and nice colors. The other is a small construction kit based on dragons and stars images that can be easily build. Moe worked also on packaging and marketing design improving a bag for both toys and a catalog that help to understand how they works.

Also Sylwia and Monika came from Lodz in Poland. Sylwia and she worked on a changeable figure based on a wooden sliced cylinder. Rotating the different slices you can change the body configuration between several variations. The technology is quite interesting because it can be used with other subjects as animals or even graphic combinations.

Monika, created a toy based on the kaleidoscope technology. A truncated pyramid with, inside, mirrors that reflect each other creating great optical effects. Besides it is possible to put inside the volume other accessories as other mirrors or panels in order to improve the reflection effects.

Muyi came from the Tokyo Art School and was fascinated by birds, their colors and shapes. So she designed a series of three bird with vivid colors and movements. She used steel springs in order to joint the body parts made by styrofoam and allow the head shake in a very funny neck moving.


Sarah, a student from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, started very soon with two toys: one based on balance and the other on patterns. The first toy that ca be used as a game by several peoples because exist a stick where each one should put one of the many colored pieced that are delivered with toy. Each piece has a different weight (with a color code) and a different size so players have to carefully choose the piece and its position. The other toy can be a solitaire or a game and it is a kind of puzzle made by cubes painted with four different patterns that you can joint together following the same color configuration.

Magdalena, also from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, worked on the hat idea. Indeed her toy is a changeable magic hat that can be wear by the children creating a new character. Beside the hat is always an important accessory for kids because is something quite unusual in the normal dress code and can be used as a very meaningful object symbolizing a profession or a special social condition.

Andrea, from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, love to sew and this passion is visible in her toy. The main idea is a series of animals that are oviparous (animals that lay eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother). So she created four animals - a snake, a snail, a fish and a tortoise - that you can reverse and turn into an egg.

Petr, the unique man in a a women's class, was interested in an object that could change the space around the kid. He invented a seat that can be used as projector in a dark room creating shadows and other light effects. In this way the player can not only understand some basic knowledge about shadows but also play with his own environment.

Finally Jana, one more student from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, designed a kind of puppets that can be mounted in a large number of ways. Eyes, ears, arms, legs, horns, etc.. are all connectable with a main body in order to create funny monsters or strange creatures. All is painted with vivid colors and dots and fit in a colored box. At the end of the workshop a child appeared in the school and start enjoying with Jana's toy, the best test each toy designer could deserve!

See you at ArtCamp 2016!


Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play.  The Brutalist Playground is a new commission by Turner Prize nominees Assemble and artist Simon Terrill, exploring post-war design for play.

Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery at RIBA, it encourages visitors to look at the materiality and visual language of now lost Brutalist landscapes in new ways through an immersive and conceptual landscape. Although the value of Brutalist residential buildings today is much debated, this exhibition shifts the focus to the equally important playgrounds found at the feet of these structures, offering a renewed understanding and critique of the architects’ original designs and intentions. 

10 June to16 Augurst 2015 

Free entry
Monday - Sunday 10am to 5pm and Tuesday 10am to 8pm

More information

SEI - Sociedade Escola Investigação

Last week was finally presented the works made by the students from the Soares dos Reis School of Arts in Porto in the context of an agreement between the Porto City Council and the Faculty of Architeture of the University of Porto (represented by me).
It was a good opportunity in order to work, one more time, on the architectural toys issue with young students from an excellent school of arts. The Soares dos Reis is an incredibly well equipped teaching institution where several very good professors are lecturing almost all the arts and art-crafts skills. So it was a pleasure to join a strong team for a new project like that.
This video was made by Nuno Beire (http://www.amatilha.com) in order to communicate the state of the project after some months because it will end later (I'll keep you update).

Anuária exposition at FAUP - Architectural Toys course

Every year the FAUP organize an exposition with some student's works of all the courses. This year we also organized some interviews (spoken in portuguese) with professors in order to better explain the exercises and the underlying theory.

Here the video about my course, Architectural Toys: