Converting streets into play spaces

Image source: KDI


Los Angeles is infamous for its car culture, and the resulting pollution and safety issues are significant public health concerns. The ‘Play Streets’ program seeks to enable residents to temporarily close neighbourhood blocks to traffic and convert them into spaces for recreation, exercise, and gathering. Through this temporary occupation of otherwise car-dominated space, the initiative aims to mobilise the community and create more flexible uses for city streets, particularly in neighbourhoods lacking access to open space and parks.

Los Angeles, USA

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)

Partner organisations:
Los Angeles Department of Transportation

Local residents, especially children ages 3-12

Scale of proximity:

Built environment component:
Public space, street

Design insights

A “Box of Play” is deployed at each event, providing shade sails, games, and a set of Wobbles that can be put together, taken apart, moved, and used individually to inspire residents of all ages to reimagine their streets for play.

Site Location:
A pilot was conducted prioritising low-income, park-poor communities.

Residents of each neighbourhood lead and organise Play Street events. In phase 1 of the pilot, a ‘Box of Play’ was designed containing games and portable furnishings, at Play Street events.

In phase 2 of the pilot, residents are successfully using the online application to apply for Play Street events.

A custom-built play pieces called “Wobbles” was designed to help children transform their streets and play in their favourite ways.

Implementation insights

The intervention builds evidence to present recommendations to the Department of Transportation so that Play Streets can roll out permanently across the city.

The program is especially beneficial to those without easy access to parks, improving mental, emotional and physical health while increasing community cohesion and safety


Intervention Type
Scales of proximity
Design guide phases

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