News: Playable City 2016 shortlist revealed

John Thalassites, September 27, 2016

Emotionally responsive signposts and mischievous footprints are just two of the ideas to make this year’s Playable City Award shortlist. 

Playable City Award is run by the Watershed to develop an interactive arts project that will be installed in Bristol, using a £30,000 prize. 

Eight submissions have made this year’s shortlist and are now available to view online for the public to comment. The winner will be announced at the Urban Innovation Centre, in London, on October 27, 2016.

The first Playable City Award was won in 2013 by Hello Lamp Post!. It allowed people to “talk” to inanimate street furniture through text messages. 

Last year, Urbanimals won the award. Urbanimals are a “playful pack of origami-like wild beasts”, explain their creators, LAX. They lurk and hide around Bristol, just waiting for people to play.

Here are this year’s entries:


The Conversing Circuit by Urban Conga, United States:

The Conversing Circuit uses uniquely conductive visuals to create conversation between people waiting at bus stops. With just a touch, passengers can trigger sounds and lights. The installation aims to promote community and connection.


Happy Place by Uniform, UK: 

Happy Place installs signposts with interactive displays to detect the expression of oncoming pedestrians and respond with text. 


Mischievous Footprints by PCT Team, Japan:

Mishievous Footprints encourages citizens to play as they travel, using embedded sensors and LED lights. The technology captures citizens’ footstep data, leaving a trail of glowing footprints – and the footprints can even, seemingly of their own free will, run ahead of their owners.


Make Your Rhythm by Nushin Samavaki and Elham Souri, Iran:

Make Your Rhythm redesigns seats at bus stops to appear like swings. But the ‘swings’ move vertically, instead of horizontally. Each seat links to a column of LED lights that respond to movement.


Stop, Wait, Dance, Walk by Hirsch and Mann Ltd, UK:

This installation uses existing infrastructure, and bursts into life as pedestrians press the crossing button. As they push the button, lights flash and a dance floor appears. Pedestrians are brought together for a brief party as they cross the road.


Im[press]ion by Mobile Studio Architects, UK:

Pedestrians can connect with strangers at different places across the city using connected installations set up at transit stops. The project “blurs the line between the digital and the physical, reducing human interaction to touch”. 


Dance Step City by Gigantic Mechanic, UK: 

This project uses a projection of LED dance steps to allow pedestrians to sing and dance their way through the city, creating a unique travel experience.


Paths by Biome Collective, UK:

This music and light installation uses movement through monitored spaces to trigger synchronised audio and visual projections. Cycling is made playful, with sounds and sensors to bring one’s journey to life.


Read more: What next for the Bearpit?

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