Ping Pong Placemaking

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. As of this summer, there’s no way to escape this sound in the streets of Vancouver. Frida&frank, a collective of three young female urbanists, is activating public spaces through the art of ping pong.

Locals gather for a game of ping pong and whilst playing, they discuss the future of their public spaces. “Ping pong has the unique ability to create a conversation between two people through the action of play,” say the initiators. It is a two-fold goal that they aim to achieve with pop-up ping pong: not only are they creating fun and lively public spaces, they also want locals to be involved and become fellow placemakers. “The project is used as a catalyst to talk about placemaking and re-imagine public life through play, involving all sorts of local residents.” People are challenged to co-create and contribute to the ping pong sessions, so that they will experience belonging and ownership towards their public spaces.

By now, frida&frank has five custom-made ping pong tables that have popped up at over 25 different locations across Vancouver. Their pop-up ping pong sessions have had various themes, such as a PING PONG x BIKE-IN, a PING PONG x DISCO and a PING PONG x POPCORN edition. With these various themes, frida&frank tries to attract different, new locals each time, aiming for inclusive placemaking.

While Pop-Up Ping Pong is an extremely nice activity during sunny summer days, Vancouver isn’t exactly California — the city is famous for its rainfall and cold weather. This triggered frida&frank to launch a new initiative, named Cure(eos)city: Exploring Placemaking through Seasonal Effective Design. With this project, they explore the seasonal transformation of public spaces in Vancouver, and look for innovative solutions that keep public spaces attractive through all seasons. Through a tactical urbanism approach, they give the placemaking practice back to the community. Together, locals can co-create seasonal effective design practices that keep Vancouver’s public spaces attractive and lively places, even during wintertime, and contribute to stronger communities.

To kickstart their project Cure(eos)city, frida&frank has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign. To back this up and create more enthusiasm around placemaking, they’ll be joining next month’s Placemaking Week in Amsterdam, where they will host special workshop.