Case Studies

PLOY – Public Life in the Olympic Year


Project Director
Anna Rose

Hype!, London Festival of Architecture (LFA)

Winner of the Leica D-Lux 5 Digital Camera

‘Stand in a circle, trace your feet with chalk and jump, hop and skip to the next foot prints. Adult fun’ submitted by fpmoss.

PLOY – Public Life in the Olympic Year was launched as the London Festival of Architecture‘s official photo competition project, co-curated by Space Syntax and Hype!

How do people engage playfully with the city and its public spaces, as well as with each other? The project has captured ways in which people respond to their urban context, exploring the use of technology as a means to communicate with others and, ultimately, celebrating new ways of creativity and participation.

People were invited to upload their geo-tagged photos via mobile phones to a dedicated project blog, and to participate online in the rating and judging of competition entries. The outcome was a wonderful record of public life in London.

Photographs were judged by a panel comprising: Patricia Brown, urban leadership consultant, Sarah Gaventa, cultural regeneration consultant and photographer Beate Sonnenberg, which met on 3rd August 2012 to select the winners.

Sarah Gaventa explains the criteria for selection: “We were looking for images that demonstrated the way that people engage with our civic and public spaces, taking ownership of them, enjoying and exploring their possibilities and appropriating them in ways that the spaces’ designers and managers may not have ever envisaged. This ownership is the true test of what makes a successful public space.”

Winner of the Leica D-Lux 5 Digital Camera
Stand in a circle, trace your feet with chalk and jump, hop and skip to the next foot prints. Adult fun
Submitted by fpmoss

Sarah explains, “It was the capturing of sheer spontaneous fun that attracted us to the image – they are having so much fun you wish you could join them.  It captures a great moment as grown-ups act like kids, jumping in the chalk footsteps.  It utilises the lake side of the Barbican – a space that lends itself rather austere to many different incarnations – and is just plain fun.”

Winner of the Lomo Diana Deluxe Kit
Holding a meeting in Chance Street, Shoreditch
Submitted by idealyc

“The concentration and calmness on those in a meeting belies the fact that they are out on the pavement on a side street rather than in the privacy of their studio, they make the most of the rare sunshine and yet still get their work done.  It is the best of both worlds.  The image is very graphic with the tones of the London stock brick, pine table and the pavement blending into one – providing a neutral backdrop to the action at the table. It reminded the judges of a Renaissance painting – a modern interpretation of scholar in their study.”

Winner of the Lomo 110 Camera Fisheye-baby and panel special mention
Beekeepers of Greenwich
Submitted by Monika Mukherjee (vanillaskymonam)

“This surreal image of beekeepers swarming, as if being called towards the Naval College in Greenwich, was pulled from the pile by the judges.  A rural landscape blends into the city behind, in colour and scale it is almost cinematic.  It felt more like a carefully composed art photograph rather than a snap shot of a wonderfully English and eccentric moment.  Capturing a fantastically odd moment in a historic public space, this stunning image deserves a special mention.”