Child’s play. Both creative and destructive creativity. Yet through this activity of creative self expression, freedom of exploration and enquiry that it allows, an assimilation of knowledge follows. Traditional formal and informal learning takes place in the tranquil environment of the preschool and non-structured open spaces respectively within an ideally self regulating broader public forum. With both the natural and built environment constantly interacting with social circumstance to enable and facilitate play and by extension learning. The context of the Johannesburg inner city landscape, a traditionally considered hostile environment for these activities, is being interrogated as one that can off er both informal but more importantly formal opportunities. This densely built up urban landscape is geared for economic activity and houses an increasingly urban population from the lower tiers of the economic spectrum inevitably resulting in congestion, which places an additional stain on health care, education and other social structures. Compounded to an urban scenario where there are already existing hazards such as traffi c and safety plus tight spatial constraints, such forces do not act collectively to create a child friendly educative conducive environment. The importance of education cannot be over emphasised in the struggle to alleviate poverty and it starts with structured early childhood development programmes. Architecture becomes part of the solution through the creation of necessary positive spaces. This thesis aims to better understand how play as a mechanism for learning for young children can be used to develop an architectural response for formal spaces that enhance early childhood development in the inner city of Johannesburg.