Tokyo Playground.
Play as a potential device for Japanese architectural design between everyday experiences and the 2020 Olympic event

In collaboration with co+labo and Japan Foundation
Location: Tokyo
Year: 2016 - ongoing


In the biggest metropolis of the world the infrastructure system overlaps the urban tissue multiple times, producing diverse leftovers digested by the city in various forms, transforming them in collective spaces with playable programs for the citizens. The void found in between, around or under Tokyo’s infrastructure is an opportunity for social and ecological reuse where the interstitial space becomes an urban re-generator.
Revisiting Japanese historical paintings of Nihonbashi bridge shows the playful and pleasurable appropriation of the infrastructure as a direct legacy of the old Tokyo pleasure districts called ‘sakariba’; a particular spatial typology that transformed what were transitional zones into pleasure districts, creating what was arguably the most definitive type of collective space for citizens of Edo [aka the old Tokyo].
The ‘sakariba’ was defined as the busiest part of the city associated with bridges and transition zones where the social hierarchy could be forgotten or even temporarily inverted and that occurred in the maximum movement and mixture of people from different social classes. Therefore this collective space trigger the noble ideas of democratic city, classless capitalism and social equity.


TP aims to show how in today Tokyo over time, some urban realities have developed a layer of fiction that stimulates various ways of interaction between urban space, infrastructure, architecture, user and behavior.

TP used the concept urbanism of play as catch-all term for settings that provide playfulness, pleasure and amusement. These are analyzed from the design and social point of view in some specific area, best telling example found in Tokyo where to show that the intersection of two lines is not just a crossing point but is wider, softer and playful. The urbanism of play become an important viewpoint for understanding and reading the city as per user experience and it deploys fiction as a means of investigating realities enhancing a work methodology linking research to design.

TP in a more widely perspective highlights that when playfulness is properly applied it introduces alternatives and spontaneous scenarios, leading to the acquisition of a different vision of neighborhoods that are otherwise controlled by a masterplan and a developer-driven approach. Furthermore, it can be expanded as a transcultural mechanism, especially in urban fringe areas at risk of vandalism, in the infrastructures then began to disintegrate for the effects of shrinkage and need different maintenance ideas, in the spaces aimed at users increasingly less able to understand the aesthetic and symbolic paradigms of contemporary architecture. Indeed, the interactive nature of game and ludic spaces seeks to relate spontaneously to individual behavior without affecting the freedom of the individuals themselves.