Architects At Play was invited to take part in Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute's 2019 Career Fair. The intent was to give the students an idea of what it is like to practice as an Architect, and what to expect in their chosen career. We decided to take a different approach and instead chose to show the students how they could incorporate "play" into whatever career path they chose.

Our presentation began like all of our presentations: with a short game. We asked the students to take a paper clip and design something... anything... with it. We gave them 60 seconds. Some people struggled to come up with an idea, but others came up with good solutions. This included furniture, tools, decorations, and accessories. We were able to demonstrate that with a group of people, it was possible to come up with several good design ideas in a very short period of time.

After that, we asked the students to complete a short exercise. Each of them was given a sheet of paper and a pen. They were then tasked with using the next two minutes to draw what the word "play" meant to them. We didn't ask them to show us what they drew, but we told them that we would come back to this a little later in the presentation.

Now that the students had spent a couple of minutes thinking about play, it was a great time to introduce them to our little firm. One of the main questions we're asked constantly is, "Why did you call yourselves 'Architects At Play'?". (Often the question is asked with a slightly contemptuous tone, which we appreciate, since it gives us an opportunity to really explain what the name means to us.) We explained to the students that, when people hear the name, they generally assume that we're just three dudes goofing around. But to us, "play" is more than just frivolous and fun activities. To us, "play" is a state of mind and an approach to engaging the world. 

By starting with the paper clip challenge, we demonstrated that through play, the students were able to brainstorm several potential solutions to complex problems. For example, one student designed a cellphone holder and demonstrated how it actually worked.

Next, we showed the students how we incorporate "play" into our business. Whether it's Ping Pong, Basketball, or Biking, we find ways to include actual physical play into our daily routines. This allows us to recharge our minds, stay physically fit, and connect on a personal level, which we believe are all important aspects of a healthy office environment. Secondly, we incorporate "play" into our design work. By being experimental and taking on an entrepreneurial mentality, we are able to venture into areas of design that are beyond, but still aligned with, architecture. For example, our office is capable of furniture, fixture, fashion, and photography, and we look for opportunities to let that work influence our architectural presence. A third way we incorporate "play" into our business is through our community engagement activities. We have used our "5-minute LEGO® Design Challenge" to teach students and the general public about the practice of architecture and the design process. We've also partnered with the Seven Oaks MET School and Murdoch Mackay's sTeam program to promote design thinking and the design process. And we've had a lot of fun supporting organizations such as The Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion at Folklorama.

This lead to a discussion on how the students could begin incorporating play into their chosen field. We told them that one way is to use "play" to solve complex problems and be innovative. We introduced the concepts of design thinking and demonstrated how "play" is an important part of "creativity" and how "creativity" is an important part of "innovation". Then we introduced the design process model, from looking for problems, to developing empathy for people, to brainstorming possible solutions, to prototyping ideas, to testing and ultimately, implementing designs. We showed them how human-centred design could help them in their roles as accountants, lawyers, or whatever they wanted to be.

At the end of our presentation, we asked the students to look at, and reflect on, what they had drawn on their pieces of paper. We challenged them to find ways of incorporating those ideas into their chosen career path. We hope we were able to inspire them to relentlessly chase their dreams, while making sure to have fun while doing it.

As an alumnus of DMCI, Paulo was very excited to present and give back to the students. Thank you to the staff at DMCI for organizing this event and for inviting us to take part. We had a lot of fun speaking with the students and would love to do it again.

If your school or organization is planning a Career Fair and would like to know how Architects At Play can help out, please contact us at