A title card for Playable City on a bright pink backdrop.

Artwork by Tony Stiles

Watershed and MyWorld to unveil six creative public art installations in Bristol

Posted on Thu 15 June 2023

An invitation to play across the city Mon 3 - Sun 9 July

  • Hug huge inflatable robots in the spectacular surrounds of Brandon Hill Park
  • Party hard with an interdimensional group of rebellious fireflies bursting out of a mural at Lakota Nightclub
  • Play a street-based game at M Shed that challenges anyone to avoid being detected by an AI-powered camera
  • Turn urban trees into stunning living sculptures that ‘breathe’ in Queen Square using only your own movements
  • Immerse yourself in the beauty of traditional Somali weaving and songs in the calm oasis of Trinity Community Garden
  • Experience a magical interactive pavement that transforms the ground beneath your feet through light, sound and play at Watershed

Watershed, in partnership with MyWorld, invites you to play in Bristol for Playable City Week. From 3 - 9 July, six playful creative technology prototypes will pop up at various locations around Bristol, designed to animate the city, fire imagination and spark vital conversations around inclusion, surveillance, climate change and the kind of cities we want to live in.

Sitting at the intersection of art, technology and culture, the installations have been developed by six teams who were each awarded £45,000 by MyWorld to create an urban prototype that puts connection, community and play at the heart of the city. They were developed as part of Playable City Sandbox, a shared development programme produced by Watershed.

The six Playable City Sandbox commissions are:


Images of three people playing, with computer generated illustrations overlaid.

Where: M Shed

When: 3 - 7 July, 12:00 - 18:00

A street-based game that challenges anyone to avoid being detected as a pedestrian in the eye of an AI. With advanced image recognition systems becoming increasingly prevalent through surveillance cameras and self-driving cars, the cities we live in are starting to see us back. By exploring how these systems observe us, and where their blind spots lie, the game aims to foster dialogue about the potential issues they may present whilst contributing to a more inclusive future of AI.

Creators: Tomo KiharaPlayfool


An image of two children hugging a giant illuminated inflatable object.

Where: Brandon Hill Park

When:  4 - 6 July, 16:00 - 22:00; 7 - 8 July, 14:00 - 22:00; 9 July, 14:00 - 18:00

Gigantic, inflatable and illuminated creatures will be wrapped around trees inviting passers-by to play by hugging, squeezing or poking them. Using pioneering soft robotic technology, the creatures will respond with shape-change, light and sound and influence the behaviour of other creatures nearby.

Creators: Air Giants


Street art

Where: Lakota Nightclub

When: 5 - 7 July, 14:00 - 18:00

An invitation to join Firefly Odyssey, a tour company specialising in the observation of inter-dimensional wildlife. Scan a QR code on your smartphone to experience the Moon Street mural (outside the legendary Lakota Nightclub) burst into life, becoming a portal to another dimension where a rebellious group of hard partying fireflies are on a mission to escape repression in their own land.  A jungle-infused augmented reality show set to local artist Arcane’s track Curse of the Pharaohs (Rua Sound) and featuring awe-inspiring light show by award-winning virtual world builder Screaming Color. For the best experience bring headphones. No app required.

Creators: GlitchAR, Arcane & Screaming Color


Woven tapestries

Where: Trinity Community Garden

When: 7 - 8 July, 12:00 - 18:00; 9 July, 12:00 - 16:00

dhaqan collective, invites guests to step inside the House of Weaving Songs, a domed steel structure inspired by the Aqal, a nomadic Somali home. Once inside, become enveloped by a series of beautiful woven tapestries that when touched ignite a sonic patchwork of stories and sounds of Somali women’s traditional weaving songs. Offering the space as a sanctuary to reflect on the significance of Somali culture and our collective climate anxieties, dhaqan collective  will also invite visitors to add their own voice, connecting the city to endangered ancestral cultural practices.

Creators: dhaqan collective


Illuminated pavement slabs. The name: Street Pixel sits mid-frame.

Where: Watershed

When: 6 - 7 July, 10:00 - 16:00

A magical interactive pavement that transforms urban spaces through light, sound and play. By simply stepping or rolling onto the Street Pixels, visitors will activate colourful lights and sound allowing them to play favourite childhood games like hopscotch or whack-a-mole, make music with street piano, or simply sit back and watch as the pavement becomes animated with joyful light and colour.

Creators: Biome Collective


Where: Queen Square

When: 5 - 6 July, 21:00 - 23:00

In a work which asks us to consider our relationship with the natural world, night-time visitors will be invited to transform the trees in an urban square into living sculptures using only their own movements and light, seeming to enable these ‘lungs of the city’ to ‘breathe.’

Creators: Jack Wates & Thomas Blackburn

Playable City began in Bristol in 2012 and is now a global movement reaching over one million people across the world.  Previous commissions have seen audiences text secrets to postboxes, dance with their own shadows under lampposts and jump with a pack of origami-like digital beasts projected onto pavements. These six new prototypes represent the latest stage of the Playable City journey, using technology to consider the future of our cities by re-using city infrastructure and re-appropriating smart city technologies to encourage conversations between local communities and the places they live and work.

Furaha Asani, Watershed’s Research Lead, says “We've spent the past few months in an intensive R&D process- the sandbox- where teams have gotten the chance to learn, build, and test their prototypes. The teams have been supported by an amazing panel of industry advisors and have also been friendly sounding boards for one another. It's been a fun, challenging, and playful process and we're really excited for you all to see and play with the final projects.”

Oscar De Mello, MyWorld Operations Director, says “It’s been genuinely inspiring to see these Playable Cities projects come to life. The companies and individuals involved each bring a unique perspective and design approach to their installations and the results show the range of creative talent and skill available here in the West of England. Huge thanks to Watershed for enabling this opportunity, and I can’t wait to go and play!”

To find out more about Playable City visit: www.playablecity.com


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