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Working paper

'Slow! Children at Play': Localization of Childhood in Moscow Playgrounds in Winter

Children and adults have different abilities and power in the city space. Playgrounds, as one of the places for children, illustrate the localization of childhood. Play area design is established by adults, and the quality of play materials may influence the variety of games and types of play but outdoor playgrounds are also influenced by a factor which was previously ignored – the weather. In this paper it is questioned how weather conditions may influence children’s play behaviour and spatial practices in a winter playground. Through observations of two Moscow playgrounds in December – January 2014-2015 and June 2015, we show that winter playgrounds even enrich the playing possibilities with the accessibility of snow as “loose part” materials. Winter weather not only allows children’s creativity in games but also redefine the symbolical borders of a playground and its equipment, turning the playground into a unified space. As children can play on the playground, with the playground, and beneath its blurry borders as well, the spatial and power inequality between children and adults slightly reduces, and city space becomes more democratized