News

Urbanimals come in two by two

Posted on Fri 25 Sep 2015

Last week we unleashed a pack of wild creatures onto the streets of Bristol. Rabbit, Dolphin, Beetle and Kangaroo are part of a magical interactive Playable City project that invites the people of our city to play: to jump, to hop, and to bounce. In this piece Clare Reddington, our Creative Director, reflects on the early days of Urbanimals, the response we've received, and the unique difficulties the playful pack has posed.

Urbanimals is the winner of Watershed’s third Playable City Award and has been created by Polish architecture studio LAX with a brilliant team of technologists, riggers, producers and makers.

The response so far has been amazing:

“Playable interventions engage, stimulate and soften the city in a way that data-collecting bins and pollution-sensing nodes will never be able to achieve.” Guardian Cities

However it turns out kangaroo, rabbit, beetle and dolphin (the Urbanimals) are a little bit shyer than we had expected because… well because making new things is hard.  

Playable City seeks to re-use city infrastructure to create surprising interactions – and Urbanimals hits this brief perfectly but has also been particularly technically complex – a bit like designing and coding eight separate computer games. The team have been working round the clock to pull rabbits out of hats, but the journey is taking a little longer than we hoped. 

We have eight urbanimals planned – in locations that stretch across the city from Hartcliffe to Clifton because this not just being a city centre project is particularly important to us. But, as the wildlife film making community of Bristol know, animals are not known for arriving on cue and can often get a bit jittery.

Today I am super pleased to share that we have a full pack of animals in four locations across the city and the final four locations will be unveiled in the next week.

So thanks for bearing with us (that’s another animal joke btw). You can now play with Rabbit under Watershed, Kangaroo on the steps up to College Green, Beetle in St Catherine’s Bedminster and Dolphin in Clifton Down Shopping Centre. Urbanimals in Hartcliffe, Easton and Old Market are next. We are mapping them as they are released here.

I hope you enjoy them. And if they feel unusually jumpy – do let their keepers know…