Spaces in play


Reena Ardeshana

The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of space and play in relation to border conditions. The essay focuses on the works by the Situationist International and looks at two key proponents of play; Theory of the Dérive as devised by Guy Debord and Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon. The SI advocated playful-constructive behaviour as a way of removing oneself from ‘everyday life’ in order to consciously engage in the urban environment. These tactics of urban play were devised as a means of subverting societal conventions and transgressing social borders. The essay argues that play can be regarded as an act of transgression. It is through the seriousness of play that societal norms can begin to be transgressed. Since the border is the space that facilitates transgressive acts, it is through play that these borders are revealed. As it becomes evident that the act of play can transgress and construct new situations it is also necessary to identify the distinction between architecture of play and architecture in play. Whilst both are necessary and valuable, it is the architecture in play that provides both a spatial understanding of our environment and offers a limitless evolution of space and use.

Keywords: play, space, derive, psychogeography, détournement, transgress.


TU Delft / Faculty of Architecture