Designing Playful Cities with and for Children

Designing Playful Cities with and for Children

Join this session to learn with Play Africa how to make use of the design thinking process in placemaking with and for children to create more playful African cities

At Play Africa we believe children are able to participate meaningfully in placemaking and they have the power to be inventors, makers, designers and creators themselves.
Play Africa is creating an open-source “toolkit,” which will support local adaptation and implementation of Play Africa’s Our Ideal World curriculum. Our Ideal World is a flexible, adaptable education workshop designed by Play Africa for children between the ages of 7 and 12 that teaches creative problem-solving. Play Africa’s customised curriculum uses an adaptation of the “Design Thinking” process used by the Stanford to teach children to understand social challenges, and how to generate, prototype and test possible solutions that can be shared more widely.

Join us for a training in our unique child-focused approach to design thinking and placemaking with and for children.


Host: Play Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa


Zviko Kanyoka

Zviko Kanyoka is an architect and researcher whose work is guided by the desire to co-create safe, sustainable, inclusive and resilient cities. Her current work looks into enhancing the potential of co-creation between urban actors and children to realize more child-friendly and playful cities through the use of design thinking processes. She believes that children in Africa are change-makers that require adequate support to actively participate in both their own development and that of the environments around them.

Rachel Fowkes

Rachel is an experienced educator and curriculum developer. She is interested in using creative pedagogies to empower children to take control of their learning. Rachel’s interest in play-based learning led to her Play Africa where first project included traveling around Johannesburg with an inflatable planetarium.

Session Summary

Designing playful cities with and for children was hosted by architectural designer, Zviko Kanyoka and educator Rachel Fowke. The session was an interactive and engaging workshop, demonstrating how we can design for and with children. Zviko Kanyoka started out the session with an inquiry – what is play and how has our traditional definition of play been limited? Children need more time to play, although this has been limited over time with changes in culture. In South Africa, 40% of our population is under the age of 15, and yet there is a lack of spaces in which children can play.

Rachel Fowke bought an educators perspective to design thinking, demonstrating that children can be incorporated in the process and that this is a highly beneficial learning exercise for children. The incorporation of children in design thinking was demonstrated with the case study of Melusi, where children where able to identify design problems and come up with solutions through the iterative process of design thinking. The audience was invited to engage in design thinking through an experiment, which was effective in demonstrating how children can be incorporated in design thinking.