Structured Play: Richard Dattner’s PlayCubes

ID Collaborative blog post

The 14-sided volumes called cuboctahedrons, first identified by Archimedes around 250 B.C., were among architect Rchars Dattner’s earliest obsessions. Influenced by the work of Buckminster Fuller, the playground pioneer became fascinated with while still an undergraduate at MIT.

His idea for play equipment built from stacks of these volumes, first patented in 1969, has now been brought back to life. “Play cubes have been a design adventure bracketing my entire professional career,” Dattner says.

PlayCubes were quickly adopted around the world, until the rising cost of the labor-intensive manufacturing process put them out of production.

Their return to playgrounds now is largely thanks to digitally aided manufacturing, The latest iteration of Richard Dattner’s 49-year-old design is bigger than the original and has additional circular openings on the triangular faces, which means more footholds and handholds for kids.