• Proximity of Care Design Guide


Activated Play Network

Image by Arup

The Activation of a Network of Play Spaces includes the upgrade of existing courtyards throughout the settlement, creating a series of designated playspaces, designed to target different child developmental skills through play.

The Khayelitsha informal settlement suffers from gang violence, exposure to environmental hazards, and long commute times to the city centre, all of which impact children’s ability to play both independently and with caregivers. Beginning with a participatory assessment, a series of co-creation workshops with children 0-12 and their caregivers, led to the identification of an opportunity to increase learning-through-play activities. The intervention contributes to the development of a local play culture that recognises the importance of play and the need for play facilitation and increases play safety via supervised play spaces.


Location Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa

Organisation Real Play Coalition

Partner organisations Arup Ikhayalami LEGO Foundation

Date 2020

Scale of catchment Neighbourhood

Built environment component Public space; Street; Creche

Beneficiary Children ages 0-12, Caregivers




The design upgrades a series of existing courtyards throughout the settlement, to form a network of designated playspaces.


The activated playspaces are linked by a playful wayfinding system of child-height signage and brightly coloured tires, which also serve to provide traffic calming for the settlement streets.


(1) Each play-activated courtyard is designed to engage a particular child developmental skill through play, supervised by trained play facilitator volunteers from the local community. (2) The refurbishment of the local creche to serve as a hub for the play network.


(1) Through a co-creation workshop with LEGO Bricks participants identified opportunities to increase learning-through-play activities. (2) The construction process included a ‘Fun Day’ where local children became part of the creation by painting the colourful wayfinding pattern with the silhouettes of their hands.

Implementation learnings/Things to consider

When working on informal settlements the lack of formal land tenure might mean that local authorities will not allow the construction of permanent infrastructure, limiting the design possibilities.

Engagement is not a point in time, but a sustained relationship along the whole design process to guarantee that the local needs are met and to ensure buy-in and ownership from the local community.




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