Reading through a recent article about Pitman Tozer’s recently completed housing scheme in Bethnal Green for the Peabody Trust, there were lots of titbits that caught my attention. The high-spec look of the building and the discussion about local authorities being able to design and build new affordable homes again were great, but what really caught my eye was the mention of table tennis.
I’m not a ping pong obsessive, but what got me really excited is the simple suggestion that by designing the tables into the landscape around the building, and giving every household only one small knobbly bat you could encourage interaction between residents and help foster a sense of community.
The use of table tennis to regenerate urban space is not an especially new phenomenon. Over recent years there have been over 700 ping pong tables installed in public space in England, thanks to Ping! England. They have helped to encourage hundreds of people to linger in spaces they might have otherwise just walked through, and to interact with people around them.
But what is exciting here is that the Peabody Trust is thinking creatively of ways of strengthening residents’ sense of community within a development and actively building that into the design from the get go, rather than tacking it on as an afterthought. Although we are not suggesting a sense of community is created as simply as through the provision of a table tennis table, we do believe that thinking more holistically and strategically about how the communities and developments will work once the buildings have been completed is a step in the right direction. Now, who’s for a game of table tennis?
For the previous blog post, click here.
Photo Credit: Elliot Brown, licensed under Creative Commons.