In September 2014, ON/OFF introduced the BOULEvard ball on the streets of Brussels during the Kanal Playground Festival
The design of the BOULEvard ball was based on the principles of Buckminster Fuller, which used tensegrity – an ecological precept based on scientific theories of compression – to create a large 4m tall structure, balanced between tension and integrity and tough enough to roll through the city.
Through a series of workshops with locals, the ball was assembled and embarked on its urban expedition around the canal area of Brussels. Festival Kanal Playground wanted to create playgrounds in unexpected places. The BOULEvard ball engaged local children and grandparents alike as they navigated the urban landscape and transformed otherwise familiar spaces. The mobile playground rolled past neighbours’ windows, inciting confusion, curiosity and ultimately enthusiastic participation.
The BOULEvard ball has a split personality. On the one hand it appears as a fascinating overgrown structure emerging out of nowhere. On the other, it has a distinct mission in the city: the BOULEvard ball is part of an urban strategy, to connect the micro (the object) with the macro (the city). Do-It-Yourself doesn’t have to be small, the city is a playground for experiments just as much as a shed filled with half-fixed furniture and modified shelves. The BOULEvard ball shows that DIY can also be collective, and its results can be shared in common.