To choose a game, is to choose an architecture.

Playing is an anthropological constant. We look at game and play as human practices in space – therefore we examine play in the context of architecture. Starting from these premises, the first of the S.Niccolò workshop series will engage with the Orto di Fabbrica to craft a contemporary notion of playground.

Testing play possibilities is something that designers should perform throughout the entire design process to gain an insight into how players experience the game. Architects should always be aware that they never design the actual player experience, but only the framework wherein that experience will take place.

What are the parameters of a playground today?
How can you frame playful experiences that inform spatial production?

“Play” is a workshop proposal, which, through research, strategic planning and prototypes definition, aims at the construction of various architectural boardgames for the “Orto di Fabbrica”. We will analyze and translate multiple playful experiences into designed artifacts, that challenge the spatial features of this complex courtyard. These architectural board games will become the means by which is possible to discover S. Niccolò through a new lens – inhabiting it differently and programmatically reconnecting it to its surroundings. The projects will encourage students to adopt a game mentality, understanding play as a core allegory of cultural production. The more you play, the more possibilities you face, the more you can shape your own relationship with the city and who populates it. The city of Prato has nowadays the highest rate of different ethnic groups in Italy, with one of the biggest Chinatown in Europe. Multiethnic encounters shape thus the daily routines of its community and the students enrolled in S. Niccolò’s different schools are exposed to the same condition.

To play is to be always open to different perspectives. Playfulness will be then meant as a device to forge inclusive models, strengthening the idea of diversity as a resource. The “Orto di Fabbrica” is already equipped with a basketball court made of concrete and a series of traditional playground furniture. Still taking into account the historical traits of the courtyards, the projects developed in the workshop will go beyond this conventional asset – understanding the realm of play as an architectural catalyst to merge updated pedagogical models with public programmatic scenarios.

Which kind a player are you?

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