PlayMo was born from the intention of inventing a space that turns into a place where people meet, spend time and play. Its name comes from “playmobil”, a Lego styled child’s creative play toy. Using milk crates was like playing with big Lego pieces.

Milk crates are a fantastic material for many reasons; they are structural, light, modular and they have an iconic role in Melbourne’s cafe image and laneways. We believe that familiarity to a material plays an important role in engaging with it.

PlayMo uses 3 different types of Crates. Black = platforms, Grey = stairs, Green = moveable.  The Green Crates provide the undefined random element; people rearrange their seats or even build small stairs themselves. There hasn’t been a single day where we found them in the same place.

Finally PlayMo is designed to grow and adapt. People are encouraged to leave things behind and to add to the structure. We found artworks, plants, toys, pillows, new crates and received hundreds of letters. We even found that people had constructed a bin so that it could be kept clean.


“PlayMo is an urban intervention by the platform City Leaks. We seek to inspire urban dwellers to explore moments, spaces and places where one can deposit themselves. The challenge is to reconsider how we inhabit and identify ourselves in the cities. City Leaks acts as a hub for like minded people to address, share and realise ideas.” City Leaks

How was the space first identified and who was contacted to secure it?

We were looking for a place that was central but in the same time hidden and quiet. Drewery Alley was perfect because of its proximity to RMIT, the Library, cafe’s and shops, and the foot traffic of Swanston Street, but at the same time completely becalmed and intimate. An existing graffiti of a man smoking his cigar made the place already unique. Nobody was contacted to secure it.

What was required to secure the space?

The space itself is not secure, but that’s the point. These left over spaces in the city are ripe for imaginative investment from active urban dwellers.

Before we installed PlayMo we made tests for its static integrity and durability.

What needed to be provided by you as hirer or user of the space?

Everything was provided by the City Leaks Team. This is not a site for hire.

What were the costs?

We needed approximately 1000 cable ties, 500 screws and a truck to deliver the material. Everything was pre-made.

What were the resources available to you?

A laneway, milk crates and a bunch of inspired minds.

Who helped you to fit it out?

The City Leaks team.

What were/are the obstacles?

The main problem we faced was levelling the unevenness of the ground.

What were/are the risks?

There were a lot of issues we were concerned about.

One concern we had was how neighbours would respond to our intervention. One phone call to the council could have stopped the whole project immediately.

Other concerns were; are people careful enough not to fall down from freestanding stairs without handrails?

Will people destroy or take away pieces, or how does the maintenance of keeping the place clean work? We were happily surprised.

After six weeks of observation we can say that all our concerns were proved wrong. We got a lot of feedback from the neighbours expressing to us how much they enjoyed the new face of the lane.

From what we know, nobody fell or hurt themselves and surprisingly, nothing was taken away. Even the parts that have been loose and free to rearrange didn’t get lost. On the contrary people were actually adding plants, artworks, pillows etc... One of the Crates was turned into a garbage bin and maintained by the people themselves.