After a hugely successful launch in 2019, we are back in 2022 to help cities overcome pressing global challenges in their local communities and neighbourhoods through playful placemaking.
Whether a community or city is

  • experiencing the effects of conflict and displacement…

  • facing the challenges of adapting to climate change…

  • or struggling to create places that cater to diverse and varied needs from the local community.

The Real Play City Challenge is looking to shine a light on all the great examples around the world that inspire and show the way to a better, more resilient, playful public realm with people of all sizes and shapes at its heart.

And why do we do it? We believe that cities should provide a playful backdrop for children and communities, thereby reclaiming and integrating play into everyday life.
After all, play is an essential right that nurtures children’s happiness and wellbeing. It is proven to equip them with social and emotional skills, build their resilience and creativity, and helps them thrive.


The aim of the Real Play City Challenge 2022 is to help cities overcome the most pressing global challenges through local playful placemaking, focusing on three urgent themes


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A playful public realm is the place where people meet,  communities heal and develop a shared sense of purpose. In all situations it is important that people have access to spaces for play, and even more so in situations where life is challenging. This could be cities destroyed by war or other catastrophes. Or where people need to seek refuge in unfamiliar crowded cities and temporary settlements. Or even places where people who were once friendly neighbours suddenly stand on the other side of conflict.
Placemaking can create quick impactful change to the public realm, providing relief in both temporary and permanent environments. 
The Real Play City Challenge is looking for inspiration and good examples that show how playful placemaking initiatives are making a difference in cities affected by conflict, migration or disaster.


There is a great urgency to de-pave and de-brick the public realm to make room for increasing rainfall, more greenery and more shade. Shade is a necessity for healthy daily life, and allows for livelier streets and higher levels of labour productivity. The WHO prescribes that every person needs access to shade within 300 meters of their home. Given the urgency presented by climate change for all the planet´s inhabitants, compelling, engaging and generationally relevant tools for thinking differently about our public realm are needed more than ever.
Cities worldwide also need to adjust their public spaces to beat heat stress, prevent flooding, improve biodiversity or harvest rainwater for dry seasons. These investments create a great opportunity to both educate and create places for play
This is why the Real Play City Challenge would like to award placemaking initiatives that add nature-based play, or advocate for climate action whilst reclaiming play in cities, benefiting the people and the planet. 

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When a play environment is not appropriate to the abilities and needs of all its people, they feel left out, unsafe or unwelcome to use that space. People do not bring discomfort or disability to a public space, they find it there when they are faced with obstacles to their participation through a lack of inclusive, sensitive design. The public realm should provide safe and healthy recreation opportunities for all citizens - regardless of age, wealth, gender, sexual orientation, physical or psychological challenges, culture or spiritual beliefs.
Good neighbourhoods provide playful public spaces for both specific groups and for all to join and meet alike. Activities that foster inclusivity helps to develop self-esteem, improve social skills, stimulate the mind, combat loneliness and enable stronger ties and understanding between different people.
The Real Play City Challenge is looking for inspiring and stimulating examples that show the way forward in providing opportunities for inclusive play in our cities and neighbourhoods.


The Real Play City Challenge 2022 judging panel will select the most inspiring cases of local communities using play to address global challenges. As a winners in each category you will have the opportunity to: 

  • Take part in workshops with experts from the RPC Member organisations to accelerate or scale up your project (Arup, IKEA, The LEGO Foundation, National Geographic, UNICEF and PlacemakingX)

  • Present your project to a global audience in activities linked to the Real Play Coalition and PlacemakingX;

  • Publish your work and receive wide visibility through our partners’ dissemination channels;

  • Have your project featured as a case study on our website to inspire other local actors;

  • Become part of a global network of thought leaders to establish new partnerships and join forces to advocate for play.

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