The PLAYCloud

The PLAYCloud is a multi-disiplinary project for HDK library.

Our team was assigned to look closer on the actual space we work and learn in HDK, and investigate the relationship between play, space, and learning.

All play is learning in some way, but what role does play have in a learning environment? And how can we as designers support and facilitate play? How are educational institutions working with play in activities and spatial design? 

Experience design, play design, child culture design, conceptual design | 2017

HDK - Academy of Design and Crafts 
Biba Sj/ Noemi Gottardi/Mengting Wang



Research & Analysis

As we analyzed the space of the HDK we found that there is hardly any space that provides an informal social interaction. Almost no cozy area that students would simply hang out and socialize, neither the feeling of creative atmosphere. Especially we found HDK library needs to be improved which has two areas, area A is a quiet studying area, another is area B intended to be a comfortable space to talk, meet and socialize but actually doesn't work very well. 

In our memory of childhood, the library is a magical space where imagination has no limits, as well as the place where one can play and meet new friends. So we decided to create a new space within the space of area B of HDK library to offer a place to play, socialize and relax, as well as space which welcomes and attracts kids to join in.

屏幕快照 2019-08-11 下午7.13_edited.png

Concept & Ideation

“A promise is a cloud, fulfillment is rain.” The cloud, as well as a forest, has magical connotations. As forest can take us to active adventures, clouds usually suggest calmness, softness, and dreamlike feeling. We want to keep both feelings.

The play-object is in the form of a soft, cloud-like shape which is situated in the middle of the library. Ropes which represent rain, are hanging from the cloud, to creat a forest that invites kids or HDKers to play and interact. The Ladder is another trigger to explore the upper space. Inside, there is a small, cosy, cave like room. This room creates another atmosphere, in contrast with the outside, which is quieter. It suggests calm playing, reading or quiet conversation. Because of the different opportunities that the PLAYCloud offers, it could be interesting for both kids and HDKers. It creates an intimate space as well as the place of encounter and interaction. 


User Test & Observation

What we found?

- The shape of the mock up was a strong play signal - and they recognized it is a rainy cloud.

- Even though the play object suggest the rainy cloud, they invented a new themed play - “milking the cow”(which we found is very interesting and really free playing)

-The main activities were jumping, pulling, climbing and swinging (but it is after our sugggestion) and running.

- The ropes are too long to swing and it should be straight down in case that they use them to twine their necks. Also it is difficult for this 4-7 age group to make knots because the ropes are too thick.

- The boy who tried a “Tarzan-style” play told the teacher that the ropes rubbed and curous about why it was so hot after pulling it.(which we think is a good learning point)

-Fatboy attracted too much attention. Kids invented a new play with it which is running towards the ropes and jumping by pulling the ropes. ( From which we know that the importance of choosing what kind of objects to show them )

-They enjoyed the raining sounds Carl-Johan was making while they were told to lie down under the rain.( adding sound elements might be interesting)

Show More

Material Experiment 

In the observation, kids were curious about the cloud top.

We decided to  deeper discover with the cloud!

We experimented with different materials and made a 1:3 prototype.

The materials we used for the cloud top are wool, paper, marshmallow and black plastic bags.

#1 Wool: it is sound-absorbing, natural, cozy and soft, half transparent, non
alergic, as well as executable in real 1:1 model, and it could also be felt

#2 Triangle shape(paper): it is a testing of the pattern that the triangle is magic, good to use on different curves and shapes. In real it could be some kind of textile;

#3 Marshmallow: we are willing to offer  a funky cloud which is funny, feeling of falling down, difficult to walk on, happy feeling of the cloud. In a distance, you would guess it is rubber, but when you come closer you will be surprised, and it is eatable.

#4 Black plastic bags: we want to show a big contrast to a nice fluffy cloud. But why we choose plastic? Because it makes a shushing sound, like rain. And walking inside on this kind of material it will be noisy. It can be both nice and annoying like long-lasting heavy rain.

Clouds also have its own mood, sometimes it’s good like marshmallow sometimes it’s depressing. The cloud also likes a human-brain, which attracts you to discover what’s inside it. You can put your heads inside, to feel the mind of the Cloud, or create your own mind inside it.

Show More

1:3 Prototpye

Inside the cloud we are thinking of covering with marshmallow feeling fillers for real use.

Under the cloud are small and heavy rains ( made of blue and white strings).Imagine that when you are pulling a thin one, which has sensors inside and you will hear the drizzle, and a thick one, heavy rains!

Under the rain we also test how it looks with leaves collected from the nature where we would like to create seasonal special environment as well as considered the safety .When it’s summer or spring—soft green foam like grass, in winter fluffy white foam like snow.


©2019 by