What We Are and What We Do

We are a lost  city department, on a path of discovery and co-production of the city. Play is our compass. We build momentary and irresistible fictional worlds in public space, which bring a spirit of empathy and wonder to public life.  

Department of Play is a Boston-based collective that creates temporary play zones in public spaces for people to step out of the everyday and play out imagined worlds. In play, participants envision alternative futures, share life experiences and knowledge, and collaboratively create artifacts. Our goal is to frame the city as a malleable, ongoing construction that any resident can experiment with and impact. 

We stage play zones in “empty” spaces--like vacant lots, public transit, sidewalks, or plazas--particularly ones  that residents imagine and perceive as “borders” that limit  their movement through the city. We explore play as a common language conducive to sharing unconventional knowledge and new perspectives, as a medium for collective creativity, and as a tool to forge horizontal social relations.

With every play zone we stage, we learn something new. Through a hands-on approach, and in collaboration with multiple partners, we also think of play as a research framework to investigate the making of publics in contexts of rapid urban privatization.