routes to play
Routes to Play worked with communities throughout Blackburn and Darwen to explore play and play spaces between September 2011 and May 2013. Delivered in three parts, the project was commissioned to develop links to the recently installed Pathfinder playspaces, and explore incidental play between them.
Part 1 was an audit. We visited each of the twenty six target play areas and discovered many more on our travels. Each playspace was documented in photographs and writing to produce a detailed record of, and emotional response to it and its immediate locality.
Part 2 was about experimenting. With a good sense of the context of play facilities throughout the borough developed in part 1, we identified six key areas to focus on, which we felt created a representative cross section of play.
A distinctive cart - The Playmobile - was constructed and pulled through neighbourhoods piquing curiosity and inviting conversation and giving the project an instant sense of presence. Once at a destination, The Playmobile transformed into a classroom, dining area or art-space and provided the backdrop to a series of formal and informal interventions and engagement activities at schools, at community centres, in play areas and on the street.
Play is alive and full of surprise, spontaneity and magic in Blackburn and Darwen!
Part 3 was titled “we play HERE”. We continued our imaginative, participatory approach and focused on digitally documenting play activity in specific areas.
We worked with pupils in schools, created a series of street-based interventions and defined routes between play areas. Using footage recorded by us and participants, we built up an archive of clapping games, snowball fights, chalking, bike riding...
A series of enamelled panels have been permanently installed throughout the borough to highlight the engagement and participation that was undertaken. Each contains a QR code which, when scanned with a smartphone, takes the visitor online to a digital gallery showing the activities that took place at that specific location.
The project website provides a snapshot of all of the encounters that took place during the project and reveals something of the characteristics of local neighbourhoods. The markers create a tangible link between the physical world where the work was created, and the online world where it is presented.
We hope that in years to come, participants will return to these neighbourhoods, scan the code and show their children and grandchildren how and where they played.www.weplayhere.org