PlayMo, Drewery Alley, Melbourne CBD
A shift from 'the' city to 'your' city; A playground for urban dwellers.
Design: Martin Heide, Megan Evans
Installation: Martin Heide, Megan Evans, Ana Jankovic, Andre Bonice, Mike Becker
The unasked question of living in modern cities is: whose city is this? New York, Berlin, Vienna, London, Melbourne – the modern city is not authored by its citizens, rather it is authored by institutions, developers, and capital. But they still claim to be cities for living – with spaces to dwell, commune and protest. Are they? Are our cities ours? Lets see…
PlayMo is one of a series of urban interventions that test who or what authors a city. The innovation made by PlayMo was its success in transferring a meme: be the author of your own place – make the city yours. It revealed that urban users wanted a space they could play with, care for, and apprehend for themselves. Someone installed plants, another a bin, artwork, cushions, lights, there was even talk of erecting a roof! In this way PlayMo is not ‘ours’; it was anonymous and yet it became everyone’s.
We did provide a social media platform (facebook page) and a physical post-box on the site to receive responses and exchange ideas for more projects and opportunities.
The big challenge to PlayMo was identity: how to ensure the project is read as an independent gesture. Recognising that urban surroundings are generally authored, the library, university, hospital, bus station, shopping mall, town hall etc., the challenge is to have something authored as ‘from the people’. The urban dweller is a pivotal agent in the creation of place within our cities but it is often hard to see how. By ensuring PlayMo spoke a language that is not instituted, governed or regulated meant we faced a design palate that must be free, fleeting, unpredictable, engaging, autonomous, inventive, inspiring, with a hearty dash of crazy. In this way PlayMo started as a rumour but became a destination.
Milk crates are the great modular Melbourne laneway debris of a café culture. They speak to a lifestyle unique to Melbournians – so they were the perfect material for this project. They’re therefore an up-cycled and re-useable cheap resource for urban interventions that speak to a large part of the society. We considered the whole lifecycle of PlayMo in its design, recognising that the ephemeral nature of the project must also be present in its material. As such, the crates that create PlayMo are the same crates that now populate the laneways again – awaiting the milkman or that familiar bottom to sit on it.