Imagine swinging while waiting for your stop on the subway, slam dunking your trash on the street corner, or sliding to catch your train with your briefcase.
More and more people and even government organizations are working to infuse more play into city landscapes. For both children and adults, turning cities into unique playgrounds appeals to the kid in all of us.
Guerilla swings have popped up around several cities worldwide. In Los Angeles, over 50 swings were set up in random places courtesy of Jeff Waldman and the Awesome Foundation. Similar projects have been enacted in California, Florida, England, New York, and Bolivia. These swings allow city-dwellers to interact differently with their environment and add an element of fun to what can be another repetitive day. Swings have been set up in bus stops, on the subway and under piers on the beach.
Another fun infusion: Basket Bin was first created by the Wa, a French urban inventor, who first showcased his urban basketball-waste basket in Marseilles. Turning a traffic sign into a makeshift basketball hoop with a trash bin as the net, many people have been interacting with this playful invention, seen by the amounts of trash stuffed into the bin. The installation not only encourages play but also green practices and recycling.
One Dutch railway station took play to the extreme, installing a slide for passengers to catch their train. Referred to as a “transfer accelerator,” the installation is nothing more than a long, silver slide allowing commuters to get from the top of the station to the bottom in record time.
What do all these infused playful elements say about how we envision the ideal city? Playful elements seem to counteract city structures that are seen for pure function and add a little more fun and interaction to the day. It seems that these small, playful changes make a big impact on overall well-being and community building. What would get you out and playing with your environment?