Carlos Javier Rodríguez Jiménez was a physical education teacher at the Institute Pedro de Valdivia de Villanueva de la Serena (Badajoz, Spain). He studied the humanization of urban spaces and believed that sports and non-competitive activities and hobbies such as hip-hop dancing or skating, could help in understanding and educating young people. It was Rodriguez along with four companions, who introduced in 2006 a pioneering project: The Factoría Joven – or a teenager’s playground. Architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano implemented the design idea, a lightweight polycarbonate building like a colorful porch open to the city. Their goal was that visitors first impression would be a vibe of good mood. The building was completed in 13 months, cost about 1.2 million euros and was opened in March 2011 in Merida, Spain. Many of the local young teenagers have already visited the new playground which is now getting around 150 kids everyday. It occupies a surface area of about 1,550 square meters, 700 of which are allocated to skateboarding only. Factoría Joven also includes facilities for many other activities such as street theatre, internet access zones, funk and hip hop dance areas, walls dedicated for graffiti illustrations, video, rock and electronic music, manga comics and artistic performances along with some climbing walls for kids to enjoy some free climbing.
The structure of the Factoría Joven consists of a three-dimensional metal grid that was also used to form the supporting columns set along the perimeter of the complex, as well as the roof which, according to José Selgas and Lucía Cano, “spreads out like a light cloud”. The roof-bearing supports are actually oval forms containing spaces allocated to internet access and to the organisation of other activities. To minimize costs, the interiors are furnished with recycled furniture.