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London's Biggest Play Street

Children reclaim their public space through play

Location: Smithfield Market, London

Client: Museum of London in partnership with Islington Play Association, funded by the Arts Council

Images: Elsa Osman

Year: 2019

*The Developer Meanwhile Prize 2019: Winner

In August 2019 ZCD Architects led on the planning of London’s Biggest Play Street with Islington Play Association. Over 1000 people attended over two dedicated sessions, and many more took part during the Museum of London's ‘Beastly Streets’ festival.

play street reclamation london
play street reclamation london

We allowed children to take over a street space in Smithfield and watched what happened. To give children as much freedom as possible, we created a structured environment of loose parts so that they could play as they chose.

Sometimes I destroy them and make them again… I destroyed it and built it a few times, then left it destroyed...


play street reclamation london
play street reclamation london

They are exploring, we are helping but they are doing what they want. They are the bosses.


The sessions garnered highly positive feedback from children and their parents, sparking a surge of innovative ideas for reimagining the public realm in light of the Museum of London's transition to its new Smithfield location. We see this project as a very successful example on ways to reclaim public space for play.

play street reclamation london
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