Palimpsestuous design: playing with architecture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Play of light, play of shadow, play of architecture…. the role of play is part of our enculturation, central to our development as children, and forms a part of our enjoyment of spaces and places throughout our lives. Curiosity, risk and participation are part of play, structured by the rules of games - from the physical and digital through to the academic lens of ludic architecture. Game design is based on the key principles of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, with objectives, activities and accomplishments. Given the complexity of design education, and the palimpsest of influence and experience embedded in every aspect of the profession, we can use games to transform and encourage curiosity and risk, as well as educate and inform.
In studio, we ask our first year students to dissect iconic buildings, to uncover the layers, rules and concepts – a studio game, to uncover the original rules of a game of spatial and structural design, with intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Games can change our perception of architecture, and some games are aiming to change the world. In this paper, I will be examining and analysing architectural game design, as a tool for practice and education. This will include case studies and recent gamification projects for studio, professional practice, and cross-disciplinary design.
A typical thirteen year old today, could be an expert at computer games, playing between 4-10,000 hours, by the time they reach University. Immersion in a game realm of risk, reward, exploration, experimentation, consequences and immediate feedback has the potential to change expectations in education. It is not only architecture students developing these expectations, but clients too. How are we, as educators, researchers and practitioners, adapting to these culture changes? How has play and game design informed architecture in the past –and what are the possibilities for the future?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Based Education 2016
Subtitle of host publicationAAE2016
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherThe Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9929485-9-7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2016


  • Architecture
  • Play
  • Game Design
  • gamification


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