Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Playing in Urban Places

I spoke at Playing in Urban Places: a seminar, organised by Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery and Theatre last week. I will be posting a downloadable transcript of my paper on the A Place For Words site shortly - I'll post a note to tell you when it's up.

It was a really interesting day. Lots of interesting ideas and questions, plus we got to make dens, and play with lego!

Quentin Stevens, from the Bartlett, gave a key note about playing in urban places, which resonated with a lot of the things I've been thinking about recently.
Play is crucial, I think, in exploring and developing our relationship with place. It seems to me that play - seen as 'normal' for children, and 'transgressive' for adults - is key to achieving a sense of ownership and agency over a place. Quentin Stevens talked about areas where play takes place: paths, intersections, boundaries, thresholds and where there are props. This made me think about the work Snug and Outdoor have done around play and narrative, using concepts from narrative analysis (about paths, thresholds, obstacles, destinations, sanctuaries, arenas) and relating those to the design of play-spaces. Can we make a jump from this to the wider field of urban design and start to design in the possibilities for new narratives?

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