Play/Grounds: a celebration of play in the city

Pitsmoor Adventure Playground in the City

Tuesday 5 November

Live Works hosted a one day event to explore how the adventure playground can be a place of community, diversity, experimentation and spontaneity.  As part of the Festival of Social Science, this showcase event was the culmination of a 6-week co-design project by Architecture students, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground and artist Steve Pool.Through conversations, exhibitions, activities and installations, participants explored what the city could learn from the adventure playground. Speakers from a range of backgrounds looked at the notion of play and its relation to the city from various perspectives. This is one of the many ongoing collaborations with Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, one of the key community partners of Urban Education Live and a location of Sheffield Satellite Hub focal research area: Pitsmoor/Burngreave.


To start the day, Artist Steve Pool introduced the history of adventure play with a brilliant quote by Colin Ward: ‘The adventure playground is a kind of parable of anarchy, a free society in miniature, with the same tensions and every-changing harmonies, the same diversity and spontaneity.’

Play/Ground Live Project Students explored the question: ‘Can play improve the city?’ through a discussion with participants. The team shared their experience on working with kids from Pitsmoor Adventure Playground: ‘it’s a collaborative process – as future architects we learn from the kids to be more free, and they learnt how to safely use power tools and hammers’. 

‘Manor adventure playground – the very first one in Sheffield’ was shown in a talk uncovering the ‘Tales of play in the city’ by Yanina Koszalinski, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground chairwoman.

Affective Atmospheres of Adventure Play were explored by Julia Sexton, a Senior Lecturer from Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield Institute of Education. ‘These entanglements spread out, opening up possibilities for new possibilities’ – Sexton on using creative methods to attune to the ‘buzz’ in adventure playgrounds. Lettice Drake from SSoA and Practice Architecture, shared her rich experience in a talk about Play Futures.


The ESRC Festival of Social Science has been running since 2002, offering an insight into some of the country’s leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives. It runs over a week full of activities covering a wide range of topics –  artificial intelligence, mental health, sexuality, parenting, weather, gender, ageing, love, death, economics and education, and it is aimed at policymakers, business, the public and young people, to name but a few.