Grounds for Play: Towards a Ludic Architecture

This November, I will be daily releasing a series of short reflections as I organize my thoughts, research, and ideas about the American Playground and its place in the future of urban and public spaces.

Specifically I will be trying to (1) document the history of the playground in the modern era, (2) examine physical spaces from which games, play, and ludic behavior have naturally emerged over time, (3) inventory exemplary cases, on both extremes of success and failure, (4) explore potential principles for designing play into public spaces, and (5) argue for the elimination of the playground as an autonomous, isolated, and un-integrated space in our cities. 

This will culminate in a guidepost, a set of principles and recommendations--a manifesto for the next great american playground, and the future of play in our urban fabric.

Inventory of Posts:

Current Questions:

This section is a sort of dumping grounds for questions and ideas I wish to explore. This is a 'living' post and will be updated regularly as the month moves along.

  • How do we define play, playground, and play-ground?
  • How do these definitions change when cross-sectioned with demographics, and how are these differences in definition and expectation manifested in design?
  • What is a ludic space, what are our goals, and how do we measure its 'success'.
  • What are the most common features of oustanding ludic spaces? Failing ones?
  • What are our major influencing factors involved in whether or not it is a 'success'.
    • Cultural influences
    • Player / Emotional background
    • Physical dimensions
  • The Age of Guerrilla Play; How our bad decisions in design has lead to the re-appropriation of public space and a counterculture of movement.