Ludic Architecture: Playful Tools for Participation in Spatial Design

By Harriet Harriss.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

During four years directing an architecture consultancy that focused on user participation
in the design process, I observed, researched, developed, designed and implemented a range of playful
participation strategies to engage a diverse range of people in the design of public spaces and buildings
for a variety of public and private sector clients. Although the focus was on spatial design, the pioneering
participatory processes resulted in a range of outputs including service design briefs, products
and publications as well as built spaces. The body of knowledge presented in the paper responds to a
gap in knowledge regarding how play and games can enhance the design process and increase participation
and how such playful processes can yield more strategically effective outcomes. The paper
will therefore present three action-based case studies, and seek to illustrate how particular playful
techniques or ‘tools’ can facilitate playful and creative participation in architecture. The paper will
reflect upon the importance to architects (and designers in general) of how play can enable us to share
our knowledge and insights amongst ourselves, our clients and our end-users more efficiently and allow
us to facilitate better option generation and solution modeling. Finally, the paper will broadly conclude
that ‘ludic’ or playful consultation techniques can result in better, more sustainable, more co-owned
social, cultural and even commercially viable public buildings and spaces.

Keywords: Transformative Play, Strategy, Participation & Inclusion, Spatial Design, Knowledge Exchange, Architectural Creation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.175-186. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.181MB).

Harriet Harriss

Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture, School of the Built Environment, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

Harriet Harriss joined Oxford Brookes University in 2009 as a Senior Lecturer in Architecture, following an international career as an award-winning architect & designer specializing in innovation and public participation in the built environment. Previously, in 2004 Harriet won a public funding commission (NESTA) to establish & co-direct Design Heroine Architecture (DHA); a practice that focused on innovative and collaborative public spaces and buildings. DHA worked on a number of public and private sector projects ranging from schools to corporate learning spaces. In 2007, Harriet was awarded a Rome Scholarship by the British Academy. Upon her return from Italy in 2008, Harriet became an associate in a consortium consultancy that specializes in creating diverse teams that combine architectural thinking with strategy and process intelligence to deliver ‘design solutions’ to a variety of public, academic and commercial clients. Harriet’s specialist teaching interests include the cinematic structure of space, film & animation methods in architecture, the history of British housing, high-density sustainable housing, the power stations of London & re-purposing of post-industrial space, and also spatial narratives, kinesthetic & process mapping. Harriet was recently awarded a teaching fellowship to develop her research into community-engaged scholarship within graduate level design studio.


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