Bristol turns into a Playable City with Hello Lamp Post

Posted on Tue 18 Jun 2013
Bristol wakes up

This summer, Bristol residents and visitors will be able to spark up conversations with the city, using any mobile phone (no smart phone required). As the first commission of Bristol’s Playable City Award produced by Watershed, Hello Lamp Post invites you to try a new way of communicating through lamp posts, post boxes and other familiar street furniture, by texting the unique codes found on each object.

So, how does it work? Codes can be found around the city, used to identify public objects when they are in need of repair. With Hello Lamp Post, these codes become secret passwords that allow you to ‘wake up’ a sleeping object and discover what it has to say. Will it be pleased to see you? Irritated at having been left in the rain? Or will it tell you a secret? Each exchange will last for a few messages before you are asked to come back and talk some more another day. The more you play, the more the hidden life of the city will be revealed.

Hello Lamp Post combines art and technology to change the way we interact with urban landscapes around us, augmenting existing infrastructure of the city with digital encounters to create playful experiences. It encourages people to look at their cities with fresh eyes, engage with street furniture that might have become commonplace to the point of invisibility, to slow down, reflect and give themselves permission to play. The idea was chosen from 93 applications submitted from around the world, when the inaugural Playable City Award was launched by Watershed and a network of organisations exemplifying Bristol’s strength in Creative Technologies. It will be sign posted around the city, and will feature a hub space to find out more and tune into some of the other conversations happening around the city here at Watershed, before touring internationally.

Ben Barker, co-creator of Hello Lamp Post and co-founder of PAN Studio, says,

“We’re incredibly excited to unleash Hello Lamp Post around the city this summer. We hope it will unlock the secrets, stories and experiences of Bristol’s people through Bristol’s objects. We have been developing the game mechanics and finessing conversation styles of the text messages that we hope will inspire Bristolians to converse and play with their street furniture – and ultimately each other, as they’ll get to discover more about other passers by in their vicinity. The more people take part the more fun for all, so do give it a go!”

Clare Reddington, Executive Producer of the Playable City Award, says,

“We all know about smart cities, but here in Bristol we have a chance to get playful with our city instead. At the start of this year, the MIT Technology Review designated 2013 the year of the Internet of Things – a trend for physical objects to become more connected and interactive, and one we at Watershed wholeheartedly embrace with the Playable City Award, a chance for city dwellers to engage with the physical landscape around them in a fun and exploratory way. It’s a complete experiment, and we can’t wait to find out what we’ll discover about our street furniture, our city, and in the process, ourselves.”

The Playable City Hello Lamp Post project launches on Mon 15 July and will run until Sun 8 Sept. From today you can watch the trailer and keep an eye on the countdown to launch - not long to wait now Bristol!