playable city

Five Fast Facts – Playable Cities

1. Playable Cities Rethink the Purpose of Our Cities

Playable Cities is an idea that puts people and play at the heart of the design of the future city and encourages residents and visitors to rethink services, places and stories in our cities. Playable Cities breaks away from the idea that cities must focus only on the movement of people and products, and aims to build cities that allow residents and visitors to spend time, enjoy themselves and connect with one another.


2. Playgrounds Aren’t Enough, Playable Cities Integrates Play into All Parts of Our City

In recent years, we have turned to computer and tv screens for entertainment and our cities’ playgrounds are getting used less frequently. The report “Using Behavioural Economics to create Playable Cities” suggests that instead of setting aside places for play we should integrate play into our streets, sides walks and communities. For example, these musical swings at bus stops allow people to play on their daily commute.


3. Playable Cities Empower Citizens to Create Happier, More Connected Urban Communities

Usman Haque, an urban designer who specializes in designing interactive environments, builds public installations that allow people to collaborate with neighbours and take collective ownership of their environments.  For example, his installation in Bradford’s City Park allows people to choreograph fountains and lights through movement.


4. Playable Cities Intimately Connect Strangers

Most public spaces are designed to facilitate interaction, whether it be intersections that allow drivers to take turns, or park benches that allow strangers to sit beside one another. However playable cities are designed to facilitate very intimate forms of social interaction by getting strangers to play with one another. For example the City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, initiates play between museum visitors by designing tunnel hallways, slideabe staircases and interactive exhibits that visitors cannot fully experience unless they do so with one another.

C8RX6T Before I die I want interactive public art project

5. Playable Cities are a Movement Away from Technology-Focused Cities

Smart cities, cities that use technology to improve performance and wellbeing and reduce costs and the use of resources  by engaging with citizens, have been criticised for cutting off those who cannot or choose not to manage cities using technology. Playable cities aim to create simple opportunities for all citizens to playfully participate in our public spaces, such as this Before I Die Wall that invited people to write or draw in chalk on a public blackboard.


More on Playable Cities


Kate2-150x150Kate Beck is an aspiring urban planner who’s passionate about streets, social justice, bicycles and rock climbing. She has recently finished a degree in geography at University of British Columbia in Vancouver and will be studying transportation planning at UC Berkeley beginning in September 2015.

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