City of Play: An Architectural and Urban History of Recreation and Leisure

Author(s): Rodrigo Perez de Arce


City of Play shows how play is built into the very fabric of the modern city. From playgrounds to theme parks, skittle alleys to swimming pools, to the countless uncontrolled spaces which the urban habitat affords - play is by no means just a childhood affair. A myriad essentially unproductive playful pursuits have, through time, modelled the modern city and landscape. Architect and scholar Rodrigo Perez de Arce's erudite, original, and often surprising study explores a curiously neglected dimension of architectural design and practice: ludic space. It is an architectural history of the playground - from the hippodrome to the Situationist city - of space released from productive ends in the pursuit of leisure. But this is more than just a book about how architecture has incorporated play into its spaces and structures, it is a history of the modern city itself. The ludic imagination impregnated modernist ideals, and what begins with the playground ends with a re-consideration of the whole sweep of the modern movement through the filter of leisure and play. Because play is such a basic or fundamental human experience, the book re-grounds the architect's concerns with those of non-architects - and not only those of adults but also of children. It seeks to give everyone - architects and other ordinary city-dwellers alike - a better understanding about what is at stake in the making of the public spaces of our cities.


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The first in-depth exploration of how play has shaped the modern city.

Rodrigo Perez de Arce is a Chilean architect. He is Associate Professor in Architecture at the Catholic University of Chile, and has taught as Visiting Professor at Harvard GSD, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Architectural Association, UK, among other universities.

INTRODUCTION Elusive Imprints PART ONE 1. About the Field Spheres of action Field and stage The Canon The primeval Field and square Field, skin and precincts 2. Formal and Relational Traits Scale Topology Topography Symmetry Linear Perspective The informal and the formless 3. Material Attributes The Lawn Sand and Snow Water 4. Locational Attributes Orientation Adaptations Couplings and mosaics The unofficial Site specific play and the genius loci Park and fair PART TWO 1. Players / The Athlete Cells and arenas Bucolic deportments 2. The Child The sky The street Anywhere Tumuli Displacements Future imperfect Stillness and the miniature Oblique rapports Return to order 3. The Citizen The return of Homo Ludens Paideia's revenge CONCLUSION Futile Pursuits Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781350032163
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Visual Arts
  • : May 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Rodrigo Perez de Arce
  • : Paperback
  • : 296