Playscapes: Pure Ludens
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More than just a frivolous activity, play can be a means of expression, escape, and familiarity. But how does play fit within a hospital context; a context where treatment, care, efficiency, and function supersede the comfort and experience of patients and visitors? Based at Starship Children’s Health in Auckland, New Zealand, this research supports the output of a design proposal for central public spaces within the hospital (atrium, mezzanine, and the Koromiko Garden). An investigation into hospital design saw a shift towards more patient-centred design. With play being inherently linked to how children see the world, a notion of play drives this project and asks; how can an enquiry into play activate therapeutic hospital environments through empathy, imagination, and re-enchantment? User-engagement through staff interviews and a children’s design charrette helped frame the brief and ensured their voices were central to the project. Material studies of colour, drawings, and mappings created connections between ideas from users and the site. Iterative developments of the design proposal layered these imaginative interrelationships between people and their environment, with the aim of improving the experiences for Starship patients, families, and staff.