Playable City Producer Hilary O’Shaughnessy joined us to talk about the most recent addition to Playable City’s international network: Lagos (Nigeria). Playable City is a framework to think differently about a city, generating a social dialogue by creating shared experiences through play. Playable City re-uses existing city infrastructure to create connections: citizen to citizen and citizen to city. Here are five things I learned from Hilary’s talk:

1. Playable City Lagos supported, inspired and challenged eleven creatives from Lagos and the UK over a ten-day lab to develop playful interventions that respond to specific social challenges and specific geographic locations in Lagos. Participants were supported to create ideas and working prototypes using the continually evolving Playable City methodology as a starting point:

  • Transform city spaces to unlock social dialogue
  • Generate ideas that prompt citizens to connect and think differently
  • Create a playful way of triggering a purposeful conversation

2. When working in a new city, where do you start? Working with local partners, who know the culture, geography and communities of the city is key for any international Playable City project. In Lagos, Watershed worked with Future Lagos and British Council Nigeria to develop local knowledge, share local networks and work collaboratively to get all the right people in the room and on-board at the start. 

3. Next came the theme. Playable City is a vast concept, and translates differently to each city. Pinning down the key city questions and issues that its citizens are keen to explore was one objective of the very first workshop with local stakeholders during an early visit to Lagos. The chosen theme was mobility. Mobility affects all citizens, and as an immense city made up of connected islands and rapidly growing, it is a prevalent issue that affects the daily lives of Lagos’s citizens.

4. So, we have a city, local partners, people on board, and a theme – now we need some public space. The concept of public space is very different in Nigeria to the UK. On recces, Hilary visited public parks that were empty because you had to pay to get in. The search for public space turned into a search for public - find them and go where they already are. Places of transition; crossroads, markets and bus stops are all places people naturally inhabit freely and became the chosen locations for the Playable City prototype work for the lab.  

5. During the lab, the creatives shared their experiences of Lagos and their creative practices. Teams were formed; project ideas generated and rapid prototyping and testing began. A public showcase of the lab process and prototype projects was held on the final day. 

Look the Storify of the Playable City Lagos lab here.

Studio themes