The Future is Play
You’ve heard us making noise about this before and we won’t ever tire of highlighting the importance of unstructured play for children’s learning.
What we care about at VIVITA is the future of children and the children of the future — helping them build the 21st century skills necessary to live happy and successful lives. And there’s no place and time more conducive for children to learn these skills than in play with others. If you do your research (and we’ve done ours), you’ll find that play equals collaboration and creativity. Through the social interactions framed by play, children develop their language and negotiation kills, learn to understand rules and expectations and boost their emotional self-regulation. Interaction with and manipulation of objects in the environment also improves their problem solving, critical thinking and other cognitive abilities. Add a little risk to the mix, and you’ll have children who are adept at assessing their surroundings and making better decisions. It might seem like a fun game, but it’s serious business!
Besides, it goes without saying that playing outdoors puts a smile on our face and is healthy for us, right? Why is it then that children playing freely in the street is an ever disappearing sight? Where are the public spaces which allow children to organize their own play unsupervised by adults? How comfortable are we observing children playing with what aren’t really toys? These are some of the questions we wanted to address during the festival „The Future is Now” which happened last week on Rävala street on the initiative of Tallinn City Council. The city of the future belongs to all people and children who just the same have the right to move freely, enjoy and adapt it to their own needs, desires and dreams.
The city of the future is collaborative and inclusive, and so was the temporary installation of playable objects VIVITA set up and let children and adults alike construct and destruct during the festival. Inspired by the theory of loose parts play and adventure playgrounds, we used pipes as infrastructural elements that usually remain invisible underground. A simple combination of fixed and loose elements of different sizes, easy enough to move, connect and disconnect even for the youngest ones, it invited passers-by of all ages to interpret and engage with it in imaginative, unscripted and unexpected ways. Our presence on site was hardly necessary or noticed: play and experimentation unfolded naturally. The playable pipes served as a conversation starter and an element of activation that made children’s play visible and highlighted the need for them to be able to generate their own play spaces in the city.
Our thanks go to Pille Laiakask from Tallinn City Council office for the invitation. Special thanks to Pipelife for providing the pipes that made the installation come to life.
Workshop: Joonas Riisalu, Teele Kumm, Vera Naydenova
Text and photos: VIVITA Estonia