‘Move the Neighbourhood’ is a research project experimenting with co-designing playable installations for a public green space in Copenhagen through a design-based collaboration between children and design-researchers.
We employed a co-design process to investigate whether deconstructing the rules for both play and design could trigger new ways of thinking about playable spaces. The aim was to test a participatory process in order to identify what might be meaningful in relation to both play and designing for play, along a spectrum ranging from rules to collaborative improvisation. Our fieldwork cultivated what Haraway calls ‘response-ability’ in a ‘curious practice’ that explores the unanticipated in the collaboration between children and designers.
The metaphor of a ‘jelly cake’ from play-research was used to illustrate the messiness of play and to frame the discussion on collaborative design. We see play as a serious co-player that evokes collective worlds through productive, messy fields of action, and enables actors to engage in the co-design of playable public space.
In this article, we investigate how play can create agency, spark imagination and open up practices in both artistic and academic processes. Drawing on Barad’s concept of ‘intra-action’, we investigate design/play as a dynamic engine for exploring collaborative design practices as a dialogue between art, play and co-design.