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Enhancing Your Designs with Playful Learning

Session 1B | 10:10 - 11:40 PM

Enhancing Your Designs with Playful Learning

Session 1B | 10:10 - 11:40 AM

1 .5 AIA LUs

Playful Learning Landscapes is a global movement that combines placemaking with early learning. By creating environments for children that adhere to a set of research-based principles of playful learning, children are invited to playfully explore their world in ways that lead to defined learning goals. By referring to an evidence base and presenting the tools for measuring the effectiveness of environments, Science-Informed Design offers architects a form of practice in which the value of their work can be better understood by others. In this session, participants will learn how to embed the principles of playful learning into design decisions. By introducing a practical methodology and facilitating scenario-based design charettes, participants will have the opportunity to learn through an exploratory process in real-time, just like playful learning! 


  1. Develop an understanding of the principles of playful learning.
  2. Explore ways to incorporate the principles of playful learning into their design process.
  3. Experience a Science-Informed Design methodology in practice.
  4. Understand new ways to frame the value of design work.

Meet the Speakers

Itai Palti 

Itai is a practicing architect, researcher, and multidisciplinary artist focusing on the relationship between person and place. He is Director of Hume, a science-informed architecture and urban design practice backed by research at its Human Metrics Lab. In 2015, Itai founded the Conscious Cities movement; catalysing a new field of research and practice for building environments that are aware and responsive, using data analysis, AI, tech, and science-informed design. For his work in advancing changes in the design profession, he was named by Metropolis Magazine as one of 2020's 'Game Changers' in transformative ideas in Health, Social Justice, Technology, and Urbanism. Itai is the Founder and past Director of The Centre for Conscious Design, a think tank focused on using design to address urban challenges facing society. The centre publishes open-access research and organises conscious design events worldwide. Carrying out thought leadership roles in a number of research and policy bodies, Itai contributes to strategies that focus on impact through the built environment, and is on the Advisory Council of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture. An alumnus of The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, Itai has worked alongside the late visionary architect Jan Kaplicky at Future System on projects such as the Ferrari Museum in Modena. His design work and writing has been featured internationally and he is a regular speaker at events focused on the built environment and human impact.

Sarah Lytle, Ph.D.

Sarah Lytle, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN). Sarah is an expert in child development and has conducted research on language development and children’s interactions with screen media. Sarah has more than a decade of experience in connecting science to practice, working extensively with parents, early learning providers, and policymakers to promote evidence-based interactions with children. At PLLAN, Sarah works with communities to infuse public spaces with playful learning opportunities, improving educational equity and preparing children for success in the 21st-century. Sarah has a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University. She was a 2014-2016 ZERO TO THREE Fellow and is currently a speaker for Ready Nation’s Brain Science Speaker’s Bureau.

Brenna Hassinger-Das, Ph.D.

Brenna Hassinger-Das, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pace University. Her research examines children’s play and learning in home, school, and community contexts, particularly for children experiencing poverty. Her areas of expertise encompass executive functioning, early number sense, and vocabulary acquisition. She is particularly interested in investigating the effects of both play and digital media on caregiver-child interactions and child learning. She is committed to translating her research for use by the public through community-based research projects as well as blog posts and commentaries featured in outlets such as The Conversation and The Huffington Post, as well as additional local outlets.

Amanda Charles

Amanda is a senior program associate in Great Learning, with a grantmaking portfolio focused on building literacy rich environments for our youngest learners – opportunities for children to build literacy skills outside of schools and early childhood education centers. Amanda holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in education from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in elementary and special education.

Heidi Segall Levy

Heidi Segall Levy is a Registered Architect with over three decades of experience in the architecture and design industry, where she has worked in a variety of capacities. For much of her career, she has worked diligently in the nonprofit sector, providing pro bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations, while raising awareness about the importance of design in revitalizing communities. She has extensive experience in community design and planning, community engagement, and project development, collaborating with public agencies, intermediaries, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. Through her work, she has led the completion of over 800 community design grant projects that total over $8 million in pro bono services. She holds a Master of Architecture from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Brandeis University.

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