PLAYHOUSE Competition

Registration date:


Submission date:




Play is an essential part of all our lives, whether child or adult. Be it playing sports, a board game or simply sharing jokes with friends, play is just as important to adults as building a den or playing dress-up is to a child. The Coronavirus outbreak has left many of us having to spend extended periods of time at home in lockdown, restricting the opportunity to socialise and play in ways that we are used to. How can we use creativity to encourage play at these unique times?

The Brief

To design something that will enable people to play at home during lockdown. Your design could make an existing everyday activity playful, provide a break from work, or make work more fun. It could recreate some form of existing outdoor play inside the house, create a whole new type of game, or do something entirely different to create play!

It could be for adults or children, and enable a person to play alone, with their family or housemates, or even with their neighbours or friends far away.

Your design should only use objects commonly found in the house, garden or shed in its construction or as props. It could make play inside or outside the house (in the garden) or even on the house itself! Your design only needs to hypothetically work. Humour, whimsy and innovation are all encouraged.

Inspiration sources and examples

For inspiration, you might consider the different types of play that exist:
• Intellectual play: Solving mental mind games for pleasure. e.g. doing a board game.
• Social play: Interacting with others through playful scenarios. e.g going to the pub or play-fighting.
• Active play: Moving all or part of the body, to actively induce a playful state of mind. e.g going swimming
• Extreme play: Using extreme scenarios or conditions to induce a range of emotions resulting in pleasure. e.g skateboarding.
• Exploratory play: Using your senses to experience the world around you. e.g exploring the woods. Imaginative play: Inventing scenarios in your imagination, and sometimes acting them out. e.g playing shop.
• Creative play: Creating something new, for pleasure. e.g painting a picture
• Frivolous play: Undertaking small and simple acts that induce a playful sensibility e.g. playing a prank.

You might also find inspiration in the work of: Heath Robinson, Rube Goldberg or Japanese Chindogu.

Some examples of designs created around the house might be:
• House maze By using the furniture available in each room, siblings could create a maze that runs the length and height of the house for each other; changing the winning route each hour.
• Washing line stories By making a makeshift pulley system from washing lines, bike wheels and clothes pegs, stories could be written on paper and pulled back and forth to be shared between neighbours.
• Knights of the kitchen table Using implements only found in the kitchen cupboards; bored homeworkers could have a contest for the best knight costume.

Submission requirements

One or two A3 sheets (landscape or portrait) explaining your design.

Your files should be saved as a high resolution (300dpi) PDF (Max 25MB) and should show an image or set of images of your design in use. This could be an illustration, a 2D/3D technical drawing, a photo of a model, an animation, a mix of these, or anything in between! You may want to add annotations, dimensions, construction information, or zoom in on parts of your idea to help us understand how it might work. The more detail, the better.

In addition to your sheets please include with your submission:
• Your name, social media handles and portfolio/website link. (So we can promote your work!)
• The name of your design. Make it snappy!
• 300 words explaining your design.
• A kit list of objects/materials needed to create your design.

Please email your submission to: with the subject title ‘PLAYHOUSE competition’. Work can be done by hand but needs to be digitally submitted (please don’t send us anything by post!). The competition is free to enter and open to creatives from all disciplines both in the UK and abroad. Submissions can be from an individual or a team effort (no limit on team sizes!)

Submission Deadlines

First wave of submissions by 6pm Friday 24th April 2020 to be featured in May. Second wave by 6pm Friday 22nd May 2020 to be featured in June.

Competition Outcome

A selection of the best submissions will be showcased on our social media pages including applicants’ details. We hope this will be a great opportunity to support and promote creatives during a difficult period, while bringing some much needed light-relief through play.

In addition, we aim to collate these designs into a book or individual prints to be sold at the end of the lockdown period, with all profits going towards the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal. The appeal collects and distributes funds to local charities and organisations supporting those directly affected by Coronavirus physically, socially and economically.

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By submitting work to this competition you are giving consent for Playhouse Competition to distribute and publish this work on your behalf both digitally and physically. All copyright stays with the designer.