Playable10 International Design Competition

Inspired by the 1954 Playable Sculpture Competition sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Georgia Tech College of Architecture and Atlanta Taskforce on Play (ATOP) (now known as Play Atlanta) organized a four-category international competition in 2009 to design playground structures and playspaces called Playable10 International Design Competition. By opening the competition to landscape architects, professional and university-level architects, industrial designers, artists, engineers, and others, they invited all types of designers to “re-think the way people play and how they integrate play into their lives.”1 They were looking for designs with “a sense of place, wonder, and fun so strong that they will entice children, teens, and adults outdoors to play.”2

Noting the increasingly urban and sedentary global lifestyles that have led to obesity and health concerns, Playable10 International Design Competition also acknowledged that such lifestyles result in the loss of risk management through play, socialization skills, and personal relationships to nature and community. As a solution, they were looking for creative play designs that would “blow the lid off the norm, because the 'norm' isn't working.”3

The first competition, PlayableKids, began in December of 2009 and was organized with the goal of gathering input from children on their ideal playspaces. These drawings from children around the world were displayed at the March 2010 conference for The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) and The American Association for the Child's Right to Play, the US affiliate of the International Play Association (IPA/USA).4 Selected drawings have also been available online with the purpose to inspire future designers and to remind them “what it feels like to play.”5

The remaining three competitions—PlayableArt, PlayableSite, PlayableDIY—ran online from June-October of 2010. The winners were announced online and at the Georgia Tech College of Architecture's Designing for Play Symposium held in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 6-7, 2010, where the top designs were displayed.6

PlayableArt was a competition to design a playspace that would be built in 2011 in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Thirty digital designs were received of which the winner and semifinalist designs were highlighted online. Using the winning design, construction at Woodruff Park began in January of 2011 and was completed by the summer play season.

The PlayableSite competition sought designs to integrate playspaces into the long-range master plan for the Atlanta Beltline, a project for converting an abandoned 22-mile rail system loop into a linear park that that will surround the city. Of the 25 digital designs received, the judges chose three honorable mention designs instead of one winner.7

PlayableDIY focused on designing do-it-yourself plans for individuals, organizations, or communities to build their own environmentally friendly playspaces. Ten designs were received, out of which all the semi-finalist plans were made available online as downloadable DIY instruction manuals.8

These three adult competitions were judged by a jury of ten industry experts, including Joe Frost, Robin Moore, Susan Solomon, and Darell Hammond.9 Their evaluation criteria involved whether the designs were playable, original, sustainable, feasible, multigenerational, accessible, and if they inspired movement.10 Georgia Tech and Atlanta Taskforce on Play were joined by The City of Atlanta, Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs; the Atlanta Beltline; Central Atlanta Progress; and Park Pride in organizing the Playable10 competition with the guidance of an advisory board of twelve play leaders.11

Playable10 International Design Competition has become an “annual global search for inspiring play design” and continues to promote the competitions to “create innovative, inspiring, sustainable, multigenerational playspaces with the power to change communities and lives.”12

  • 1. “Playable10 Design Challenge: Create Inspiring Play Design.” Playable Design. < > 13 July 2011.
  • 2. “Jury, Criteria.” Playable 10: International Design Competition. < > 13 July 2011.
  • 3. Op.cit., “Playable 10 Design Challenge. Create Inspiring Play Design.”
  • 4. Op.cit., “Jury, Criteria.”
  • 5. “Competition.” Playable Design. < > 13 July 2011.
  • 6. Op.cit., “Jury, Criteria.”
  • 7. “Updates.” Playable10: International Design Competition. < > 13 July 2011.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Op.cit., “Jury, Criteria.”
  • 11. Op.cit., “Updates.”
  • 12. Ibid.