Urbanimals in hibernation after 26,000 plays across Bristol

Posted on Thu 10 Dec 2015

The Urbanimals retired on Thu 19 Nov to mark the end of the Playable City Conference. The winner of this year’s Playable City Award, the Urbanimals were hunted down by Bristolians, who discovered the eight animals in all corners of the city. Over 26,000 people have played with Rabbit, Dolphin, Kangaroo and Beetle over the Urbanimals’ 10 week life span between September – November.

The Urbanimals are origami-like light projections that took up residence in eight locations across the city in order to playfully engage with passersby. Created by LAX (Laboratory for Architectural Experiments), the Polish experimental design team, with a brilliant team of Watershed technologists and producers, these shy creatures didn’t seek the limelight so much as the non-places of the city; the spaces you merely pass through.

Creators LAX have been delighted by the public response to the project. They said:

“We are really thrilled by Bristol’s reaction to Urbanimals and their enthusiastic reception. We’d like to thank Watershed and partners for making our ideas a reality. It’s easy to focus on the attractive parts of a city, but we wanted to shed light on the places of transition and find ways to improve them with this project. We wanted people to have fun playing with the animals hidden away in unlikely spaces - and then they will remember that they saw the city from different angles and perspectives.”

And residents seem to have relished the experience of playing with the Urbanimals - the feedback has been very supportive: “Really love this kind of public art. It makes a big difference to urban areas” and “Good to see it in BS4 things like this usually just in Clifton and the centre”.

Clare Reddington, Executive Producer of the Award says:

“I’m delighted that the Urbanimals have been such a success – these creatures have really captured Bristol’s imagination. This has been the most challenging Playable City installation that we’ve done so far, and we’ve learnt so much. I can’t wait to see what happens next time. The Playable City Award focuses on inclusion, engagement, collaboration and openness at a scale that people can relate to and Urbanimals fitted the brief perfectly.”

Watershed’s Managing Director Dick Penny recently celebrated Bristol’s creativity in an article for City Metric, saying: "The city is alive with people doing stuff, together, combining creativity and technology in public, in the lab, at work, at play."  Urbanimals is a perfect example of this in action.

Watershed are now hoping to tour Urbanimals, to follow in the international footsteps of previous successful Playable City Award Winners, Hello Lamp Post and Shadowing.

Meanwhile, Watershed - in partnership with British Council and Future Lagos - are currently seeking 10 creative people to participate in a Playable City Lab to be held in Lagos, Nigeria next March.  We are looking for creative, ambitious, curious people who believe we can start a new kind of city conversation through play. 

And - we will be launching the fourth international Playable City Award early next year, so watch this space!