University of Oulu

Designing for a playful future : a review of how humorous play within the urban realm can make adult play a part of everyday life

Saved in:
Author: Guerrero, Christina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Oulu School of Architecture
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
Pages: 85
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : C. Guerrero, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-05-31
Thesis type: Master's thesis (tech)
Tutor: Herneoja, Aulikki
Reviewer: Mahlamäki, Rainer
Herneoja, Aulikki
Soikkeli, Anu-Sisko
Sanaksenaho, Matti
Aarnio, Petri
Pihlajaniemi, Janne
Outila, Tarja


Everybody plays. It is a behaviour that is common to all people and indeed most species. A person’s inclination to play is dependant, not only on his mental and emotional state, but also on his surroundings. Despite our physiological separation from the rest of the evolving natural kingdom, our brains have scarcely evolved further than those of our hunter-gatherer forefathers. So often the playful side of adults is forgotten, un-nurtured and neglected, much to the detriment of public physical and mental health. In this ever-changing and fast-paced human society, we are constantly trying to avoid or subdue our primal instincts because we believe we are somehow different... “We are not animals”. We make our primal desire to be free and rampant something to be ashamed of, afraid of and even embarrassed by. This thesis discusses the importance of play with regard to mental health and how urban environments can be and become conducive to play in adults. It poses some ideas about how designers can provide opportunities for both active and fantasy play in transitional urban spaces that we use on a regular basis.

The thesis addresses the issue of ‘what is play?’ by establishing a working definition of play in terms of an individual adult player and their surroundings. This definition then serves as the basis for evaluating how contemporary urban design uses a wide array of techniques and strategies to incorporate adult play within everyday life through literature review and case studies. Moreover, it tackles the concept of humour and identifies the benefits to encouraging communication of the self through humour and freedom of expression within the urban realm. These observations provide the basic structure for developing some design parameters which an architect or urban designer might utilise in designing spaces and environments that facilitate play and designing humour for playable cities in order to attain the ‘playful’ city.

see all

Copyright information: © Christina Guerrero, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.