Tucked away in the picturesque mountains of Piemonte, some small towns stand out as shining gems among the lush green forests. These small agglomerations of few houses tied together, were the inspiration for Carve’s design of an iconic playscape at Serravalle Designer Outlet. Carve was asked to create a multifunctional design that would incorporate a range of features: an iconic playscape, a main event square, a picnic area, an indoor creche, and a lighting and shading structure, all connected by a common design language.
For the playground, Carve imagined a small, vibrant village that is scaled down to a child’s size, designed to spark curiosity in both young and adults with a multi-age approach to the design. The result is a one-of-a-kind play village, built in clusters of hexagonally-shaped plateaus and towers arranged in an alley-like maze that creates an authentic mountain settlement feel.
The main event square is a spacious, open area that allows children to run around freely and also provides a space for hosting temporary events, exhibitions, and special gatherings throughout the year. Seating elements and a large spanning shading structure have been arranged in the space. These strategies are all aimed at creating a plaza that can be shared by the local community and is lively and attractive throughout the day and all seasons.
A ribbon of vegetation is woven around and through the spaces, forming a green horizontal plinth that creates the feeling of “a village in the nature”. This design element not only hides the parking area from view, but also provides a safe and welcoming space where children can play freely, sheltered from the carpark.
Campers who regularly use the client’s private parking space at Serravalle Designer Outlet are welcomed and have seen their facilities improved, along with the addition of public barbecues integrated into the new picnic area, which is open to many different groups of users, including customers, passersby, and members of the local community.
The play village at Serravalle Designer Outlet consists of four distinct zones: toddler towers, sensory towers, active and adventure towers, and lounge and lookout towers. The last three are grouped together to form the main play area, while the toddler zone is separate. This design allows children of all ages to explore and play in a vibrant world of shapes and colors, with endless possibilities for routing and discovery. Like in a play maze, kids can play in, on, and between the towers. The play functions are allocated according to age groups, offering easy or more challenging experiences. Children will love running up the steps, sliding down, hiding, and discovering the interior of the towers, which include a variety of elements such as tunnels, trampolines, hammocks and nets, kaleidoscopic installations, tactile ropes, mirrors, and much more.
Social play is achieved by creating connections between the world inside the play houses and the play activities on the “street”. These connections are both physical (through ramps, climbing nets, or grips) and visual (with transparent wooden cladding and perforated walls). Inclusiveness was a key consideration in the design process, and children with physical disabilities can access the entire play village and most of the play towers through ramps.
In our design, we enjoy exploring and balancing opposites. In this case, we have revitalized the local mountain heritage with a colorful twist, transforming a tiny rustic village into a completely new and exciting experience.
This approach has been highly appreciated by McArthurGlen, and has been extended and incorporated into other surrounding structures, creating an immersive experience that we believe will invite people to return again and again.
Project website: Carve – Serravalle Designer Outlet
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Hydea S.p.A.
Project Location: Via della moda, 1, 15069 Serravalle Scrivia AL, Italy
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2020 – Completed: 2021
Photographer: McArthur Glenn
Manufacturer of playground equipment: Holzhof srl