1st Edition

Transforming Public Space through Play

By Gregor Mews Copyright 2022
    256 Pages 106 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 106 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Continue Shopping

    This book provides an empirical analysis of the concept of play as a form of spatial practice in urban public spaces. The introduced City–Play–Framework (CPF) is a practical urban analysis tool that allows urban designers, landscape architects and researchers to develop a shared awareness when opening up this window of possibility for adventure.

    Two case studies substantiate and illustrate the development process and testing of the framework in Canberra, Australia, and Potsdam, Germany. The appropriation of public spaces that transcend boundaries can facilitate an intrinsic connection between people and their immediate environment, towards a more joyful ontological state of human existence in which imagination, co-creation and a sense of agency are key elements of the design approach. The framework presents an alternative understanding of public spaces and public life, reflecting on theory and its implications for practice in a post-pandemic world in dense urban centres.

    A bridge between theory and practice, this book explores possibilities on what future design ought to be when openness and ambiguity are consciously integrated parts of practice and process. The book presents a valuable discussion on public space and play for academic audiences across a wide range of disciplines such as landscape architecture, urban design, planning, architecture and urban sociology, which is informative for future practice.

    1. Introduction  2. Understanding Play and Public Space  3. Public Space Methods and the City–Play–Framework   4. City–Play–Framework in Operation   5. Adventure in Public Space  6. Designing for Adventure in a World with COVID-19


    Gregor H. Mews teaches Urban Design and Town Planning at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. He has a PhD in environmental design from the University of Canberra, Australia, and has studied urban and regional planning at TU–Berlin, Germany. In his pursuit of adding quality to urban environments he has worked across all sectors, served on juries and boards in Denmark, Germany, Vietnam, Sierra Leone and Australia, advising government, non-governmental organisations and industry on urban design and public space projects. He is also a co-founder and director of the Australian Institute of Play.

    'Greg Mews’ new book offers an empirically based methodology that can change our increasingly privatized and restricted public spaces into exciting places for play, exploration and creativity. Drawing on Lefebvre’s theoretical triad of perceived, lived and conceived space and a review of current environment–behaviour research techniques such as mapping, diaries and time-lapse photography, he develops the City–Play–Framework to transform urban public spaces, sidewalks, parks and vacant land into designs that will facilitate children’s and adults’ sense of wonder and ludic activity. A must-read for designers and planners as well as social science researchers interested in creating a more socially sustainable city for our vulnerable youth.'
    —Setha M. Low, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Psychology, Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Women’s Studies, CUNY, New York, USA

    'In the tradition of William Whyte and Jan Gehl, Mews combines detailed observation of people’s everyday playful behaviours with careful analysis of built form to enhance our understanding of the rich complexity of social activity in urban spaces. Transforming Public Space through Play provides an up-to-date introduction to the forms and role of play and diverse methods for studying it. The book develops fresh insights into the inter-relationships between people, activities and urban settings, which can help readers think differently about how to design and manage public space.'
    —Quentin Stevens, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

    'With Transforming Public Space through Play, Gregor Mews contributes to the existing public space literature by introducing play as a window to better understand its use. Following this perspective, Mews postulates a multi-method approach capturing particularly informal and non-instrumental activities. Based on this approach, Mews formulates his City–Play–Framework (CPF) and tests it in two pilot studies. Written in a time when use of public space was highly restricted, during the pandemic, Mews’ book makes us aware how play makes such spaces so enjoyable and helps us to discover what makes us human.'
    —Hendrik Tieben, Professor & Director, School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong