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Clarendon Street Arcade: reactivating South Melbourne's streets through play

Built environment Urban planning Streetscapes Electronic games Melbourne Metropolitan Area

In 2022, the City of Port Phillip, a local council in Melbourne, commissioned the Future Play Lab at RMIT University to design and implement Clarendon Street Arcade. It consists of 5 custom-made arcade cabinets loaded with original games that are inspired by Melbourne’s geography, culture, city life and Indigenous history. The games were designed in collaboration with local artists, gamemakers, academics, students and First Nations People. The cabinets are fully playable outdoors on the street, forming a 'trail' along Clarendon Street in South Melbourne.

This report outlines and examines the background context, design process and implementation of Clarendon Street Arcade. It offers lessons for researchers and artists undertaking similar playful interventions into public space and serves as a valuable case study for implementing public activations more generally, as cities simultaneously recognise the social and economic benefits of urban play, rebuild their economies, and encourage a return to public life post- COVID.

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