The Overlaid Life of Places of Play: Mapping the Destinations and In-Betweens of Historical and Contemporary Play

Joel Seath, Kelda Lyons


Working from a start position of play for the sake of playing, this article aims to share some of the content of, and reflections on, the Play Cartographies seminar that was co-presented by Joel Seath and Kelda Lyons in May 2018 as part of the Livingmaps Cultural Cartographies series. The seminar discussed research that Joel Seath undertook between 2015-2016 on and around an adventure playground in west London with children and older residents who live in the area near the playground. Joel researched where and how children play and have played over the last few generations in the area.

As well as mapping particular contemporary uses and aspects of the adventure playground with children and playwork colleagues, destination places (such as parks) were mapped, as was the simultaneous mapping of the playful use of the local area on a wider scale: the in-between places of the streets and their various steps, yards, kerbs, stairwells, etc.

This article aims to present a detailed understanding of the kinds of play and places that are important to children in London. We also aim to contribute the knowledge acquired as part of this research process towards existing bodies of research that are concerned with children’s place within, and right to freely enjoy and use, the built environment. We believe that the built environment is mainly designed for adults, not for children, and that more consideration towards children should be given when planning, designing, altering or rearranging built environments.


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