A New Way of Play

CAMIT Grant Recipient 2020

The forms and functions of participatory design and critical pedagogies

About the Project

A New Way of Play is a collaborative endeavor that rethinks the role of authorship and agency in design. The project considers play as a method for collaborative design thinking, bringing together 9 to 12-year-olds and MIT architecture graduate students Sarah Wagner and Alexandre Beaudouin-Mackay at Cambridge’s Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House. 

As Wagner and Beaudouin-Mackay write, “Play is not aimless but productive; it is the way in which we learn to exist in the world. […] If architects want to re engage the world of politics, in the midst of a global call for a new and equitable era, they must return again to play, not just as a subject but as a method.” In collaboration with children at the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, their goal was to “experiment, analyze, and iterate on different forms of play in order to understand how the culturally embedded values of structure, form, texture, and material might influence education and self-development.” 

Funding from the Council for the Arts supported a centerpiece of the work, Personal Thrill, a chair that mimics the unpredictable sensation of a roller coaster with a specific, controlled pattern of movement. The coordinated motion of those pushing from the outside creates a disorienting experience for the rider inside, requiring trust and communication. 

To delve deeper into Beaudouin-Mackay and Wagner’s work, check out their thesis: A New Way of Play: The Forms and Functions of Participatory Design and Critical Pedagogies, submitted to the Department of Architecture as part of their degree of Master of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, February 2020.


Past Events

Sunday Play Session
Sunday, December 15, 2019 / 4:00–6:00pm
Westgate Lounge, MIT Building W85
Families are invited to join us for a play session with unconventional toys designed and built by MIT Architecture Students

About the Artists

Alexandre Beaudouin-Mackay is a 2020 graduate of the MIT M.Arch program. Originally from Paris, France, he received his B.Sc. in Architecture from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

Visit the artist’s website: Alexandre Beaudouin-Mackay

Sarah Wagner is a 2020 graduate of the MIT M.Arch program. She graduated in 2016 from the University of Kentucky’s College of Design with majors in both architecture and English literature. 

Visit the artist’s website: Sarah Wagner