A ordinary playground might take weeks to design and days to build. The Instant Playground comes in a suitcase and goes up in less than an hour.
There aren’t any swings or slides–the “playground” is as much for adults as children and is made up of a simple game designed to build a temporary community in places where none exists.
“Since it’s portable and can be assembled anywhere, we thought that the game can begin to reclaim some of the unused or misused areas of the city–to begin to bring people back to certain areas,” says architect Marcella Del Signore, who originally co-created the design with four other designers for Urban Prototyping: San Francisco in 2012.
The game is designed to force neighbors who otherwise might not interact to talk to one another. Two teams of four roll dice to step along a path of tiles and then follow instructions to interact with the people around them. A player might have to ask someone nearby what they want to change about the city, for example.
“Things happen when people are instigated to interact,” Del Signore says. “If you’re walking down the street, or in a park, even when you want to talk to someone, sometimes you don’t do it. So the game itself was in a way an excuse for people to talk to other people.”
The designers have tested the game in both San Francisco and New Orleans. Now, after winning a new grant from the Urban Urge Awards, the team is working to make the game even more portable and to begin to manufacture it for other cities.