Playable City Award Winners


Film by Dominic Gaskell
As people pass or stop in front of any one of the different creatures between dusk and midnight, the Urbanimals wake up. This magically interactive project was created using projectors and sensors and stretched across the whole city of Bristol UK in hidden locations.


Film by Drew Cox
Shadowing by Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier gives memory to a city’s street lights, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who passed underneath, leaving traces of people who walk the same path every day.

Shadowing Toyko

In February 2016 Chomko & Rosier installed three Shadowing lamp posts in Tokyo as part of Media Ambition Tokyo – celebrating creative techology in urban spaces across the city.

Hello Lampost

Hello Lamp Post invites you to conduct text conversations with Bristol street objects in order to unlock hidden secrets and memories from within the city’s infrastructure.

City Workshops



In February 2012, the British Council and Watershed brought together twelve artists and designers from across East Asia and the UK, for a five-day sprint at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio around the theme of The Playable City.

Talks from Making the City Playable conference, 2014

Hear from an incredible range of brilliant thinkers, makers, civil disobedients and planners as they offer their perspectives on the concept of ‘Playable Cities’.

Why Play?

From Stockholm’s Piano Staircase to Bogota’s traffic mimes, a global movement of playful city interventions is taking shape which fuse gamification, urban innovation and cultural regeneration. Tom Uglow of Google and artist and researcher Tine Bech were joined by game designer Holly Gramazio and Emma Morsi from this year’s Playable City shortlisting panel to explore why we play, how we play and what play means for the future of our cities.

Tine Bech


TL Uglow via Google Hangouts

Emma Morsi

Holly Gramazio


The Rockefeller Foundation describes resilient cities as those which enable people to bounce back stronger after tough times, and live better in good times. This kind of flexibility requires a balance of reliable infrastructure and people-first systems. This session explores how cities can use existing technology and citizen engagement to create permeable, hospitable and resilient places to visit, live and work. Speakers included architect, artist and Umbrellium founder Usman Haque on empowering people to transform their cities and technologist, designer and writer Tom Armitage on adapting existing city systems for smartness and Communications and Change Strategist Katz Kiely on designing digital solutions to city challenges.

Usman Haque

Tom Armitage

Katz Kiely

Permission to Play

Bristol’s elected mayor George Ferguson and Francesca Perry from Guardian Cities discuss the role that city authorities have in creating playful, permeable cities? How do they enable the conditions and mechanisms for creative citizens and interventions to flourish? Does the notion of a Playable City suggest organised fun too strongly? Where do we draw the line between playful intervention and act of vandalism or disobedience?

George Ferguson and Francesca Perry

Case Study: Hello Lamp Post

In 2012, Watershed launched the first Playable City Award, inviting creatives to pitch something wonderful to inspire and engage. Hello Lamp Post by London-based experience designers PAN Studio with Tom Armitage and Gyorgyi Galik, was chosen from 93 entries from around the world. Challenging myths & exploding preconceptions around the internet of things, smart cities & AI, Hello Lamp Post was a delicate, textured SMS-based experience that has delighted & engaged people from all walks of life. Sam Hill of PAN Studio joined us to reflect on the project, how to use technology as a gateway rather than a barrier to player engagement and what he learnt about capturing mood, place-making, city branding and use of public spaces.

Sam Hill

Play and City Branding

From Volkswagen’s Fun Theory to Pepsi Max’s Unbelievable Bus Shelter, brands and agencies around the world are harnessing surprise and appropriating play, using city infrastructure as both communication canvas and social media hook. This session highlights ground-breaking work from the commercial sector, exploring engagement, the best ways to make impact or change, and the place of advertising on our cities’ streets. Speakers include Tara Austin, Senior Brand Planner for Ogilvy and creator of Babies of the Borough, offering a more positive approach to crime prevention, alongside founder of pervasive games company Slingshot, Simon Johnson and Ben Milne, Head of Innovation at Posterscope UK.

Tara Austin

Simon Johnson

Ben Milne

Making Change

No matter how good the plan or how bad the block, people find ways to reorganise, re-appropriate and reconfigure cities to their own needs. This session explores people-up playful interventions, the sustainability of subversion and practically how to get things done when you are going it alone. Speakers include Alice Ferguson of Playing Out, a Bristol-based street play organisation which is unlocking roads for children to play, author of satirical novel ‘The Planner’, Tom Campbell and conceptual artist Paolo Cirio.

Paolo Cirio

Tom Campbell

Alice Ferguson

Case studies from around the globe

Beatrice Pembroke from the British Council introduced this session which focussed on sharing and showcasing landmark international projects and creative practitioners who are transforming their cities through play. The speakers explored how the different cultures, weather and design of cities effect their appetite for play. Speakers include designer, planner and developer of the ‘Legible Cities’ concept Mike Rawlinson, multidisciplinary artist Luke Jerram, whose project Play Me I’m Yours has been presented in over 46 cities, reaching an audience of over 6 million people around the world and Brazilian Claudio Morinho, a strategy consultant and a former Planning Secretary for the Brazilian state of Pernambuco.

Beatrice Pembroke

Claudio Morinho

Mike Rawlinson

Luke Jerram