Transforming neglected spaces through playful design

Image source: MACIA Estudio


Tamaulipas is a permanent urban installation that encourages play between generations. The garden-like site had a negative reputation, with poor lighting and maintenance and drug use. Insecurity of the neighbours and visitors drove them away or forcing them to take longer routes to the kindergarten, primary school, and two nearby apartment buildings. The intervention aimed to transform the area into a child-centred space, creating play opportunities along the neighbourhood route. Tamaulipas is a symbol of transformation, setting a precedent for reclaiming space through play-centred design in a fast and effective manner.

Mexico City, Mexico

MACIA Estudio

Partner organisations:
Creative Producers International, Watershed, Cuauhtemoc Borough Council

Local community

Scale of proximity:

Built environment component:
Public space

Design insights

Something as simple as cutting back bushes to a height that allows the passers-by to see through them, can change people’s perception of danger or insecurity.

Visual changes can challenge the inherited negative perceptions of a place.

Children and neighbours were invited to participate in the design process of the space.

Implementation insights

Even when invited to participate some neighbours can be reluctant to be involved and some might also resist change. Sensible engagement should encourage dialog across different ages and family compositions to create a mutual understanding of the needs of other neighbours.

Solid commitments by local government are key for the sustainability of the interventions.  Maintenance of green areas is critical, as the failure to maintain them over time brings back insecurity perceptions.


Intervention Type
Scales of proximity
Design guide phases

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