Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Playfulness is an element which drives play and encourages us to interact with our surroundings in new ways. As with all mammals, humans, from birth, use play as a learning tool to develop our relationship with our environment and with each other. However, when we transition into adulthood playful interactions become far less frequent. This change in behaviour creates a research opportunity within architecture to reintroduce daily play for adults with new interactive spaces.

Action research is the main methodology used to develop the research on how adults experience and express playfulness. A variety of methods including drawing, model building, 1:1 design intervention, and surveying will be used to define the spatial elements which can encourage playfulness in adults. The research outlines how to encourage new interactions by connecting users’ bodies to a space through their senses, the expression of their emotions, and their movements. The haptic, olfactory, visual, and aural senses are used to engage the users in new playful spaces.

Wellington City is explored for potential sites to create new playful spaces. Victoria University of Wellington’s Te Aro campus becomes the focal site for these new spaces. Te Aro campus’ interior circulation is treated with four new sensory-specific designs to encourage adult students to engage in daily play. These designs use generic forms which have sensory-specific interactions, whilst remaining ambiguous. The forms encourage adults to be playful by allowing them to project their own playfulness onto the space around them.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline

Architecture; Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280104 Expanding knowledge in built environment and design; 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

2 Strategic basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Gual, Carles