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Turning Trash Into Table Tennis

Found objects become an urban ping pong station in Helsinki.

Annti Ahtiluoto

The city is full of ping pong opportunities, if you've got the right equipment.

In some cities that might mean having a concrete ping pong table in a park, like this table in New York City's Tompkins Square Park. Or it might mean traveling through the impressively ping pong-friendly bar scene in Berlin. But for one group of urban paddlers in Helsinki, there's no need for such formalized ping ponging. They've taken to the streets with little more than a ball and a couple paddles and managed to construct playable (if not Olympic) ping pong tables mostly from materials in dumpsters and city trash cans.

Through the creative use of rope, found materials and scavenged wood, a makeshift ping pong table can be built and used within moments. This video from Janne Melajoki shows how to integrate a little table tennis into nearly any urban environment.

Melajoki explains the concept, which was a final project at the Lahti Institute of Design:

In my graduation project I have pondered urban intervention and the role of the designer in activating the city. My end product is a concept of a ping pong table, that enables the occupation of urban space in a whole new way.

The project shows how urban space can be used and tweaked to create the sorts of experiences people want but might not be willing to wait for an official arm to provide.

Image credit: Annti Ahtiluoto

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.