Playwalking the City

InspiralLondon Playwalking the City

Marseille Research and Exchange May-July 2022

With Hotel du Nord, Sauvons Miramar, the Gammares Collectif and le Terrain D’Aventures.

(with support of Bureau Des Guides 2013 and Eté Culturel 2022)

Director Charlie Fox continues a series of multi-layered co-creations and explorations of North Marseille as a play terrain; participating in investigative walks, in collective workshops for children and adults, in festivals and events. This series of interlinked workshops, creations and events seeks to explore the radical potential of playwalking the city together.

Part of InspiralLondon’s ongoing action-research – to inspire new ways of seeing and occupying the city as an adventure play space for all.

I am in North Marseille now with the collective Baguette Magique, having left the fortress-like bounds of Castellane Housing Estate, crossing the busy roundabout and under the A55 autoroute, we make a first stop by the abandoned railway station of St Henri[1]. Some of the adults have carried suitcases. Opening them now with the children, we start to paste images from the groups magazine onto the wall. Others sponge paint through stencils, or tie crocheted decorations to the gate. Peering together through gaps in the metal security gate, we admire the medley of rubbish and wild flowers that flourish on the broken ground. This magical moment, as this unprepossessing site is transformed by the presence, energy and activity of the children, adding their marks to the city’s abandoned infrastructure. In this co-construction of a temporary adventure terrain we witness: ‘the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a game of events’ (Debord & Fillon, 2010, p. 46).

[1] Baguette Magique – an association of women who live in La Castellane working to reinforce social links, education and activities for families – joined with Hotel du Nord (Parc Miramar Group); Association 3,2,1; Momkin; Espaces de possible; TAPLA project – to share the potential of traversing the city as if it was an adventure terrain by walking from the confines of the Housing Blocks, across busy traffic to weave a way to another improvised ‘adventure playground’ at Parc Miramar.

Forthcoming publication – The city as Adventure Playground: Playwalking the city (Autumn 2022)