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Social Design: Learning at Play

Shenzhen, Guangdong


“Social Design: Learning at Play” is an exhibition on 10 years of work by People's Architecture Office and showcases how design, with a playful attitude, can have real social impact.

When trying to create change we often face challenges. We may feel as if nothing can move forward, as if we’re hitting a wall, especially if we are trying to address social problems. There are systems, procedures, relationships, means, time and an endless list of difficulties to deal with. However, if we face all this with a playful attitude, possibilities emerge. Through seeking ways to address social issues PAO has developed a methodology of design founded on the concept of ‘play’, focussing on actions such 'Trial & Error’, ‘Catalyzing’, ‘Tinkering’ and ‘Involving’.

In short, ‘Trial & Error’ is about learning through failure; ‘Tinkering’ is working with what is readily available; ‘Catalyzing’ promotes social interaction and ‘Involving’ allows people to participate in and with design. These actions have given shape to PAO’s practice over the years, resulting in a body of work that empowers its users to explore, learn, contribute, and impact. The exhibition not only shows key projects from PAO’s practice but also includes interactive models that allow visitors to experience the methodology hands on. Additionally, a special section in the show is dedicated to the ‘People’s Design Workshop.’ This is a designated space for workshops utilizing PAO’s ‘Plugin Learning Loft’, a prototype in development for early childhood education. The workshops allow participants first hand experience of play in design. Through the projects, buildings and events presented, a proposition emerges to give shape to the city as an innovative learning environment. An urban landscape stimulating a cohesive society full of playfully creative citizens and learners, perpetually inventing new prospects for their communities, for themselves, and for each of us.

Social Design: Learning at Play

Location:Shenzhen, Guangdong

Date of Completion: Dec 2019

Principals:He Zhe, James Shen, Zang Feng

Project Team:Anouchka van Driel, Feng Ziqing, Hu Ru, Kim Dahyun, Li Xueke, Li Tianhui, Lin Yirou, Lin Mingkai, Sha Jinghai, Xie Jun, Li Zhenhua, Sun Yao, Tian Wei

Photographer:People's Architecture Office

Organized by:Design Society and People’s Architecture Office

Curated by:People’s Works

Supported by:Design Trust, Leping Social Entrepreneur Foundation, Narada Foundation, Heights Properties Co., Ltd., Qian Yuan, FuturePlus

Special Thanks:More than Architect