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Stories from the world of Urban Play


Epic Llama is so damn fabulous that my jaw is still ajar in awe.
Will you consume a hot beverage with me some time in this city we both live in?
With gentle clouds from Schöneberg,


I would love to play test too, Theodora!


Hey it’s Maria,

I am so happy to read about this project cause it’s seems very inspiring and intresting and i would really like to experience it in the city as a designer. I have studied architecture and but I am specially keen on urbanism,placemaking product design.

Play is a lot about fantasy , enthousiasm and energy and I can offer much of all these. I have experience on working in big teams as I have taken part in many projects and workshops. My working backroung as a traine architect was both in Greece and abroad and I can speak fluently two languages English and Spanish.

Throung my studies I have gained the experience to deal both in the big scale of the city and small scale of one to one construction and materials. I hope to give the most of my skills in this game challenge and learn the most I can



Hi Everyone,

I am Gavin. I live in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of the UK.

I am currently working at Northumbria University where I am part of an EPSRC project called Playing out with IOT. In this project we are using IOT to encourage children under the age of 9 to transform their neighbourhoods into digitally enhanced playgrounds for their adventures.

You can read about how we are designing for outdoor play in our open-access paper. Photo credit below to the project, with visuals by Thomas Dylan.

So how did get here?.. In the past, I was a computer games programmer. I worked on the Catwoman, Lego Bionicle, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, and some others you might have heard about, or even played! However, I began to get inspired by some great designers like Iris Soute and Douglas Wilson, and several years later I went back to University and pursued these interests in my own studies, where I re-imagined play through new technologies.

Fast forward, and now I’m lucky enough to be part of “that” interdisciplinary project looking at outdoor play. And, I remain very motivated that games can be better. All too often games are “played alone, together”. We need more designers re-imaging play and games, and designing for play. In turn, this might empower everyone to enjoy playing in the spaces around us. As Jane McGonigal argues, the world presents us with “infinite affordances”. We should get out there and design for our “real world”.


Hi Everybody,

A little bit about me, my name is Ioana, I am an artist and designer curious about the relationship between the built environment and human interaction. I am originally from Romania and I have been living and working in London for the past 5 years.

I am part of Walala Studio, as well as an ongoing collaborator of architecture, design and new media studios; design fairs and brand innovation consultancies. My current work spans a diversity of media but always seeks to translate places of togetherness into objects, installations and happenings. I also run speed dating nights, mentor young people, and enjoy travelling to far away places to learn from others.

As for the story :slight_smile:

I truly believe there is a powerful exchange going on when you host and trust an unknown person. It validates my belief that we are a community with shared values. After I finished high school I moved to Bucharest to study Architecture. I wanted to meet strangers and travellers, so I joined Couchsurfing.

On one of our gatherings, I met Adria, a Spanish nomad travelling across Europe organising Free Hugs campaigns. I was initially cynical of the practice. As much as I like strangers, I thought it’s a bit odd to just go hug a randomer. Armed with a board on which I scribbled &Free Hugs, I joined the others to the streets. I have to admit, it was magical and scary, and a little bit mad, but the reactions, the smiles, are still one of my favourite memories even after 12 years. I was so smitten by the idea that something so small can bring so much joy that decided to join Adria on his travels. My first time out of the country was hitchhiking from Bucharest to Sofia to offer some hugs. Like any good story, there were quite a few adventures on the way, but more on that another time. Our host in Sofia was an architect, we went sailing, picked wild mushrooms and ate loads of jellies. As much as I was curious about where the next yes would lead me, I had to return home after a few days.

New cities can feel challenging at first, intimidating even but this experience taught me that I can find a community anywhere I am if I am willing to be emotionally invested my surrounding and its inhabitants.

Have a lovely weekend!


Hi people,
Amazed after reading stories from the fourth corners of the world, I hope I will be part of this project,

I am reem chekki, I am an architect, I live in Tunisia, North Africa, I had the chance to touch many different fields such as photography, cinema, teaching, activist in social life , working in workshops on urban redevelopment, there have been realistic results as well as other utopian ones, hopefully one day we can reach a utopian world. I believe that the diversity of the activity in my journey is thanks to our training in architecture “you have to try to master as many tools as possible to achieve what man wants”. Among the experiences I had in the associative life, I was an educator for a group of children in the context of a big festival in Georgia, also, I was part of the group of builders of a village for the visitors of the festival ( I can’t go without working on architecture), where we exposed all the works of the children we worked with in the surrounding villages, this experience was very inspiring for me, and since then, I became sensitive to urban redevelopment activities aimed at giving a more to local children.

A lot of love from Tunisia,


**Hello everyone, I am Matthew Isikhuemen, I live in Nigeria. I am a creative innovative futuristic designer. I am a 3D artist / VR developer. Am very passionate about the virtual reality technology. The thought of being able to bring to life, people’s dream houses, facilities, cars, prototypes, ideas, etc. for me is a dream come true. hence my love for 3d modelling and Virtual Reality.

I want to share a project I worked on. I worked on a 3d interior design of a residential apartment for a client, and I wanted the client to experience the design in a different way, order than the conventional animation videos. So I opted to use virtual reality as a my tool for visualization. So I embarked on a journey of research and study. After some months of online studies, I came up with a really awesome virtual reality experience of the residential design. and when my client tried it on, he literally wept out of amazement. I was really happy and glad that I was able to bring his ideas to life, and he could also interact and experience the designs in an immersive and interactive manner.


Hello everyone!

My name is Panagiota Bourtzinakou, but most people call me Penny. I was born and raised in Athens, Greece until I came to Chania to study Architecture in 2013. I am a senior student in Technical University of Crete.

Since I came to the university, I have been part of many projects in the field of urban planning and design, spatial planning and of course Architectural Design. My current research interests are focused on collaborative urban games as a tool for reaching sustainability in the city, as well as the field of innovative learning.

For my thesis project I have carried out an extensive research in the field of urban gaming, and three case studies have aroused my interest. Participatory Chinatown, Detroit (Spacefighter platform) and especially Finding Places (MIT media lab). These projects inspired me greatly and made me strongly believe that designing and organizing a complete game based on realistic data of the urban environment and lifestyle, where all the stakeholders would be a part of it, could make a big difference in the city and the quality of life in it.

In my diploma project I am dealing with the challenges of the design and development of an Innovative High School in Athens. This project is indirectly linked to the principles of participatory planning, considering the great impact it could have on the way contemporary communities perceive the process of learning, which can be tightly intertwined with technology in the years to come.

Ι hope that I will be given the opportunity to explore the impact of urban games in the real life!

Let’s change our cities together!


Hello I am Lilia from Tunisia,
I am an architect, but I am also a ‘slam poet’, I am a member of an Italian-Tunisian association called “Corps Citoyen”. My interest in working in the public space and with the population began with the Tunisian revolution. In 2012, I joined a group of young writers ‘Street Poetry’, we made readings in the public area. My discovery of the public space, of the street, directed all my work of architect and artist. During the last seven years I participated in various artistic projects, among his projects, I animated a series of workshop for children, I worked with them on the lived space, the perceived space, between drawing and writing, one constructs and deconstructs one’s spaces to create other imaginaries. My last project in southern Tunisia was to set up a play area for children, it was a necessity for the context. So far I have not necessarily been interested in creating play spaces specifically but I find that work for/about children is very important, that’s why I’m writing here, it’s a opportunity for me to move to another stage of creation and reflection on space and the child and the game.
Have a good day,


Hello everybody! It is so nice to get to know all of you and your inspiring stories!
I hope I am not late to write you this message ahah as it is the 31st :scream: Let’s see!

So, my name is Giulia, I am from Italy and I live in the Netherlands for three years now.

I am originally an architect, although, during the last two years, I decided to move my focus to wider scale projects, by paying more attention at people opinions and feelings. I left behind me the traditional top-down approach that old architecture schools teach and I started to discover how much more complex and effective is having a bottom-up method to deal with urban issues.

Today, I believe in participatory planning, and being able to apply citizens’ knowledge to my projects is a pleasure. I love being in contact with diverse people and learning from their experience. I have recently participated to an architecture/urban development competition in Germany in which I had the luck to meet a very sweet and proactive community – the final result was very dynamic installation, which, we believe, it started a process of revitalization of a public square. Nevertheless, I discover my crazy passion for building things – I think I was sleeping with the driller in my hands :smiley:

Today I am involved in diverse organizations and activities that are related to placemaking, tactical urbanism and urban development and I hope that Trust in Play will help me learn more tools to cultivate my passion.

Hope to meet you all soon!



Hello play community,:ping_pong:

My name is Teodora Ungureanu, and I am a phD student, in the first year at The Urbanism Doctoral School of
Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest. I also work in urban research and planning at the National Institute for Research and Development in Constructions, Urbanism and Sustainable Spatial Development URBAN-INCERC.

My doctoral research field focuses on urban regulations concerning housing neighbourhoods in the Romanian context. I want to find the correlation between the urban indicators and the quality of life of the residents. Usually attributed to social, economic or political factors, the development of new mass housing in Romania can be seen as a chaotic, unplanned and market-driven urban phenomenon. My study will consider the influence of urban regulations on the socialist housing districts (years 1945-1989) through different case studies.

One aim is to generate guidance for future urban regulations that will tackle the current market-driven developments which don’t take into account the welfare of the residents. Another aim is to explore the use of technology to find this correlation urban indicators-quality of life. I am interested in the use of city information model paired with gaming technologies as a research and planning tool, but also as a facilitator for the dialogue between specialists and non-academics.

Also, along with my friend and fellow designer Maria Mandea, and other super-talented collaborators, I work at Studio Super:Serios. With our motto in mind, Work is serious, play is super seri(o)us! we design by research and research by design. By bringing play methods into our processes we draw inspiration from as many fields as possible: graphic-based, objects-based or space-based, blurring the lines between them.
Super:Serios plays by designing and designs by playing.

I want to combine my two fields of work as much as possible and meet new people that would like to be super serious collaborators, so we can create great urban games that can be applied in eastern context.

Also I am happy to see here so many talented people. I am looking forward to hearing more about your projects,

Best wishes :smile:


Hey everyone!

My name is Rachael I’m 24 and I’m from Belfast in Northern Ireland.

I just graduated in December from my MSc in Urban and Rural Design at Queen’s University Belfast and doing my final project I realised my passion for working with young people in re-imaginaing interface/peacewall sites in Belfast. This then led me to come with a PhD proposal in co-designing a shared future; how can children be a part of the re-imagining of Belfast’s interface communities. I was so fortunate to have received funding for my PhD where I will be studying again at my same school at Queen’s which begins in October and I think Trust in Play will be an amazing learning opportunity and experience to be involved in while it begins. I hope to be involved and hear more interesting stories from the many diverse backgrounds of all the people already posting!

Thank youuuuuuuuuu :smile:


Hello everyone,

I am Ann Kildehave and I am an urban designer / landscape architect. I am currently based in Berlin where I live and work, but come originally from Denmark

My first meeting with play and games was when I took my internship with Invisible Playground in 2014. I wanted to experience something beside pre-decided outcome and physical change. For the first time I say how games affected public space. Especially the PlayPublik Krakow made me see the raw potential how play can help change our perception of space and the city we live in, moreover how it also challenges and changes our relations with each other. WOW! Game-designers/ artists from all over the world where invited to conquer the streets of Krakow in a playful way – and to celebrate and explore public spaces through play.

And with a look into the universe of play, I am now always trying to understand how I can incorporate play in my job as a landscape architect. More specific I would like to understand play better, and unfold its untapped potential in the context of urban planning, in the civic participation process.

Already during my studies I experienced the many downfalls of participatory processes and started to look into how to improve working with co-production and co-decision. Even though even processes that mean well usually over promise and under deliver I still strongly believe civic participation is the best way to involve local actors in e.g. a planning process. This feeling was only reinforce over the last three years at my work at A24 Landschaft. Here I experienced firsthand the well-meant but broken status quo of civic participation. A lot of smart people are trying to make it incrementally better, but the wiggle room is too small for true creative curveballs. But it may be time for a different start, a change of perspective. Play!

In play I see a huge quality of the non-concrete: effects of a design which are not manifested in a physical form, but expressed in mental anchoring. This is also why I find games/play so interesting, because they are a great tool in changing perceptions of time, space and relations. Moreover play and civic participation are connected by how they shape the relations of the participants: the relations of participants among each other, between participants and objects, participants and rules, participants and atmospheres etc.

I think being a part of the ‘Trust in play’ traineeship/network is the perfect platform to learn more about play. I do not have any experience in making games (play them, yes), but not making them and I would love to learn it.

Best wishes from Berlin



Hi everyone!

My name is Nikoletta Zegli and I’m from Thessaloniki, Greece. I currently live in Göteborg where I just finished my master in Child Culture Design.
This field of design focuses on children’s play culture.
I must say that I was more than excited to find out about Trust in play!

Time for storytelling!
So during my final project for my master thesis I collaborated with a school in Gothenburg. My main topic is how to create free play opportunities in an urban context with re-used material. Collaboration with the school was awful in the beginning, the stakeholders were absent during the 6 months of the project and I lost faith in my project. I would say that this moment is the moment in a designers life where they hit rock bottom and have to rise again through all the difficulties. That was also happened to me, this was a learning experience for me and I learned to re-evaluate and re-adjust the results of the project in order to move forward. The final result was even more than I had expected and I am more than satisfied. The love and gratitude I received from the children I worked with and the fact that through this project children started playing outside and forming their own culture feels as a success for me.



Hi there!

First of all, I wish to say how impressed I am by what other people have posted! So many people studying such interesting topics. I will keep it as a reference, it doesn’t close after the deadline, right?

A little bit about myself:

My name is Maria, I’m from Bucharest, Romania and I’m a designer and researcher in play.

What I mean to say is that I’ve started being interested in design for toys and games from my first year as a student in the Product Design department (so, back in 2012). In 2017, I graduated with a project for a costume-making construction play-set for kids. And in the fall of 2018, I started a PhD in the field of Arts, studying play as a form of applied art from a participative point of view.

Also, together with best friend Teodora Ungureanu (who is also here, on the forum) in 2017, we founded Studio Super Serios, play design studio, in Bucharest. Yes, this is my full-time job. We use play techniques to engage users in the design process for various objects and also create toys and games. Teodora’s description would probably be quite different, we’re still figuring out what we’re doing.

A story about what got me into play (besides the obvious, that I like to play, doh!):

In 2012, I started working on an educational theatre performance with children from a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bucharest. They participated in all the aspects of making the performance, from acting, singing and writing the text to set and costume designing. We were a team of adults helping them with professional advice and they were helping us with play advice (nice exchange, right?). With me, they were building sets and costumes out of cardboard (really, really fun!). And there were two kids that really didn’t get along. One was kind of a bully, carried a knife on him and would get into fights and the other was extremely shy, some days didn’t speak a word. Needless to say, after the time spent playing and creating together they became really good friends (and friendlier to others too). We all did. I think what I want to say is how convinced I am that play can make even the most different of people to get along. So probably this is why I want to explore play more on an urban, social level.


Hi! I am Eva and I come from Estonia.

Currently, I am graduating from an MFA programme in Child Culture Design at HDK, in Gothenburg. During my studies, I have learned how to involve children in the design process: iterate and produce together. This has become one of my main principles in designing: taking into account children’s ideas and opinions.

Last year I took part in a summer academy programme in Yahsibey, Turkey. Together with 10 international students and the local kids in Bademli, we mapped out the public space usage for play and created a proposal for change. The final outcome was based on the local people’s stories about the village and included a physical-digital navigation system through the village to inspire play. The project was presented during Counterplay 2019. Check out the process and proposal here

I have also designed a book that invites the reader to go out and explore the street patterns to find shapes for storytelling. Opening up our eyes makes us add meaning to already existing by just using our imagination. “Street View” project was exhibited during Stockholm Furniture Fair 2019 and published on Dezeen

In general, I am interested in materials and tactility. More specifically, I like to open up the usual usage of materials. In the previous project, I wanted to visualise the play possibilities of the street as a material. In my thesis project, however, I was creating temporary installations with large scale and quantity of paper materials in the preschool context to open up children’s usual spatial usage. Check out the process and examples here

In the traineeship programme, I would also like to follow my main design principle and involve local kids in Tallinn to design and implement an urban design together. For this purpose, I have contacted a local children’s makerspace called Vivistop Telliskivi ( to help me implement the project together.

I am looking forward to the collaboration with the Trust in Play!



Selamat pagi! =) Hi everyone, my name’s Aning – I’m originally from Indonesia but am now living in New Zealand (previously work/lived in Singapore and Scotland). I’m passionate about raising environmental awareness, helping people understand and appreciate how much we all rely on the complex ecologies that surround us (even in cities) and motivating them to help protect it. So I’m really excited about this opportunity to learn more about how to incorporate games into this process, and to share some of what I’ve learned over my varied academic and professional background.

My academic background is in Architecture and Sustainable Design. After finishing my Masters’ Programme (National University of Singapore), I was practising as a Landscape Architect / Environmental Planner in Singapore for about eight years before deciding for further study in the UK in 2017 (University of Edinburgh).

My projects are focused on the restoration and conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity in urban settings, such as the reinstatement of freshwater marsh, renaturalisation of urban streams, biodiversity enhancement in urban parks, application of sustainable urban drainage, etc. In addition to the ecological conservation purposes, these projects were also designed to raise awareness and improve the community’s understanding of nature processes and cycles through the incorporation of playful landscape elements. I’ve been really encouraged by how positive the public responses to these projects have been and how much participants pick up. By joining this community, I hope to be able to incorporate more games and playful elements into my future urban ecosystem conservation projects. What better way to encourage communities to learn about and appreciate their natural environment than by giving them opportunities to play fun games?!


Hi all, my name is Greg Loring-Albright, and I’m a scholar and designer of mostly-analog games.

I am a PhD student in Drexel University’s Communication Culture and Media program, where I study the communicative aspects of games played in person with other people. I like to situate my academic practice as an outflow of my practical, real-world design experience, and to let my theoretical reading inform my designs.

I design tabletop games (I just published a mini-game about my favorite book Moby Dick with art by an incredible painter! Check it out here: []) and pervasive games for parks, streets, campuses, and (most recently) bookstores and libraries.

Here’s a quick story from a game I was involved with: My friends run a traveling circus / political demonstration called the Carnival de Resistance. It’s a combination of songs, plays, sideshow acts, and community gatherings, all centered around eco-justice and resisting tyranny and oppression. This past year (2018), they wanted to host it in Philadelphia. Usually, they find a field outside of town and set up a big tent there, but they had trouble finding the right site, so a downtown church (within spitting distance of City Hall!) allowed them to use their space. They decked out the sanctuary with ribbons, banners, and signs of resistance. They set up magicians, jugglers, and carnival games in the hallways and throughout the basement gathering room. A performer dressed as a cuckoo took up residence in one of the bell towers, surrounded by broken clocks. To tie this all together, they invited me to make a game. Visitors who entered would be handed a coded message on a sheet of paper, and, by traveling the space and talking to the performers, they would uncover a secret message. I was thrilled, but I was having trouble connecting the narrative threads. The game seemed flat. As I sat down the performers to learn their characters’ stories and think about the Carnival, one of them said to me “It’s about showing the world we dream of.” Something clicked, and I reworked the game: Now not only were players solving a code, but they would collect marbles from all of the characters as a reward for quests, questions, or simply saying hello. In the Carnival’s final moments, before the last show began, the characters led the attendees to a central hub, where we had built a Rube-Goldberg-esque marble machine. The marbles rolled from track to track, spinning wheels and making loud, echoing clacks and clanks in the church sanctuary. They filled a jar, and one of the magicians shouted “We’ve done it! We’ve collected our dreams! Now, let’s make them a reality!”

It was a beautiful moment, enabled by a very simple game: Talk to performers and collect marbles from them. Solve the message if you want to. I learned a lot from the Carnival about simplicity, about rich environments of collaboration, and about how we can combine our dreams to make them into a reality. Here’s the carnival crew warming up:carnivalwarmup


Hello !!!

I am Lilia from Tunisia, I am an architect, but I am also a ‘slam poet’, I am a member of an Italian-Tunisian association called “Corps Citoyen”. My interest in working in the public space and with the population began with the Tunisian revolution. In 2012, I joined a group of young writers ‘Street Poetry’, we made readings in the public area. My discovery of the public space, of the street, directed all my work of architect and artist. During the last seven years I participated in various artistic projects, among his projects, I animated a series of workshop for children, I worked with them on the lived space, the perceived space, between drawing and writing, one constructs and deconstructs one’s spaces to create other imaginaries. My last project in southern Tunisia was to set up a play area for children, it was a necessity for the context. So far I have not necessarily been interested in creating play spaces specifically but I find that work for and about children is very important, that’s why I’m writing here, it’s a opportunity for me to move to another stage of creation and reflection on space and the child and the game.

Have a good day,



Hi Everyone,

My name is Rob. I live in Glasgow and I make theatre. Increasingly, my practice as a theatre maker collides with games design. I’ve made some forays into that area - interactive performance art; games for researchers to share their research - and now I’m very keen to make more. But to do that I need collaborators! It’s no fun on your own! So I am very glad to meet you all.

My most powerful memory of play comes from when I attended Counterplay festival in Aarhus in 2017. I was alone in a new country, trying out a new area of my arts practice, and surrounded by cool people - I felt nervous! But in one of the very first sessions I attended, the facilitator asked us to go out of the room and find something in the building to play with - in a way other than was intended. It was amazing how this simple instruction changed the space, and changed us as people. I made a connection with a new friend that day I’ll never forget. Wordlessly, without saying hello or even exchanging buisness cards over awkward small talk, we saw a table. The table had wheels. We pushed, we pulled, it slid and span. We threw it one to the other, like tennis. Laughing, we jumped on top and rolled underneath, full of the pure pleasure of play - without intention or purpose. It was great.

The thing I love about a game is when you lose yourself in it - become bound up in the simple instruction and discover something, and forget yourself. It happens in all kinds of ways in all kids of playful spaces but I think it makes for a VERY powerful place to tell stories.

So that’s what I want to do!

Thanks - look forward to hearing more from you all!