THEME: Play

What does play mean to you?

BY Images of Play | October 2012

To tie in with the theme of the 2012 London Festival of Architecture – A Playful City – and also build on our recent debate on the same theme, this series of think pieces considers play in the city.

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A selection of images that articulate different forms of play in the city; what does play (in the city) mean to you?


Photo: Lucy Musgrave – Design and Landscapes for People
Play as gentle subversion – modification of both the game and the city to explore play.


Photo: Dubrovnik
Adapting to fit the context: Inserting \’play\’ into a historic, dense urban setting.


Photo: Rebecca Roberts-Hughes
At the bottom of Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower in London is a bizarre concrete structure that includes a sheltered area with odd openings and something that resembles a slide. Made from concrete, these could never be used as a play area for children – so what is their purpose?


Photo: Susie Clapham
A playful city to me, means one full of unexpected things.


Photo: James Parkinson
Activation of an old industrial site in Copenhagen – Using play to explore an alternative future for the area, this installation adds infrastructure to promote drama, risk and exploration in an area of the city that previously harboured no public life. Completely unsupervised, this kind of provision of potential risk would no doubt be feared in the UK.


Photo: Wilson Yau
Parkour – Moving through the city in new and exciting ways. Re-imagining the potential of the city in a way that seeks out risk, exploration and drama, for enjoyment.


Photo: Rebecca Roberts-Hughes
Iconic buildings like the Tower of London can provide commercial opportunities for play, like the annual festive ice skating rink.


Photo: James Parkinson
Richard Wilson – ‘Turning the Place Over’, Liverpool. A playful re-imagination of part of the urban fabric suddenly makes this building a destination and, consequently, highlights the limitless possibilities of re-thinking the existing city in new and creative ways.


Photo: Marsh Van Moorsel
The Sultans Elephant, London – Using the city as a stage for events and spectacle to bring people together.


Photo: Rebecca Roberts-Hughes
Once every three years Zurich holds Europe’s biggest festival. Every street is flooded with stalls; every square becomes a dance floor; and fun fairs and water games spring up around the lake, above which there are helicopter displays by day and fireworks every night. After two days of extreme festivities, Zurich returns to its usual state of calm and order.


Photo: James Parkinson
Hierarchy of priorities for Britons?!