“Playable City extends you an open and free invitation to play in public spaces, and catalyse conversations about the kind of city you want to live in.” Furaha Asani, Nesta’s Creativity Cultural Capital article 

Playable City Sandbox is a creative research and development programme. Watershed’s Sandbox methodology provides a facilitated space where participants have the chance to transform an experimental idea to a working prototype over three months of rapid research and development. 

Six teams have been commissioned to create new innovative prototypes that push creative boundaries. The commissioned projects place play at the heart of the city, sparking imagination and conversation about inclusion, sustainability, surveillance and the future of cities. 

Playable City Sandbox is part of the MyWorld IDEAS programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund to establish the West of England as the global centre of creative technology excellence. 

The Commissions 

Squeeze Me created by Emma Powell, Robert Nixdorf, Richard Sewell, Air Giants  

Squeeze Me uses inflatable soft robotic technology to create a compelling and charming tactile and visual experience. Up to ten huge, inflatable and illuminated creatures, wrapped around trees, lamp posts or other street furniture, invite passers-by to hug, squeeze, lean on or poke them. Creatures will respond with shape-change, light and sound and will influence other creatures nearby.  

The House of Weaving Songs created by Fozia Ismail and Ayan Cimli, Dhaqan Collective  

Inspired by the Somali-style nomadic structure called the Aqal, this interactive installation will be co-created with Somali communities in Bristol and beyond, integrating Somali weaving songs and woven tapestries in an experiment to connect the city to cultural practices that can inspire us in our fight to tackle climate change.    

How (not) to be hit by a self-driving car created by Tomo Kihara - Artist and game designer & Saki Coppen and Dan Coppen, Studio Playfool  

A game that challenges people to avoid being detected as human in the eye of an AI. With surveillance cameras becoming smarter and the cities we live in starting to see us back, it poses the question; how do they see us? Anyone can join the game, but can they get from start to finish without being detected?  

Zoomscape Zoetrope created by Jack Wates - Artist, designer and educator & Thomas Blackburn - Creative technologist  

A zoetropic light experience, designed to be viewed from moving train windows upon arrival and departure from Bristol Temple Meads station. The content changes with each passing train, creating a new experience for passengers on daily commutes.  

Fireflies, a Glitch by Screaming Color and Arcane created by Mike Salmon - Creative Director and producer, Ossian Whiley - Technical Director & Screaming Color - Artist  

A transformative immersive experience using virtual content to turn the streets and landmarks of Bristol into a colourful, sci-fi-infused digital jungle, awash with mesmerising visuals and local music - no app required.  

Street Pixel created by Tom deMajo - Artist and game designer, Malath Abbas - Artist and game designer & Sarah Selby - Artist and academic   

Street Pixel is hardware graffiti; designed to reinvigorate the relationship between people and their cities by transforming the street below into opportunities for connection and play using creative technology, game design and a sustainable approach to materials and electronic hardware. 

You can follow latest news of the commissions on the Playable City Website.

About MyWorld

MyWorld is the flagship for the UK’s creative sector and is part of a UK-wide exploration into devolved research and development funding. Funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strength in Places Fund, MyWorld is Led by the University of Bristol, the £30 million programme is made up of 13 partners from the West of England region’s creative technologies sector and world-leading academic institutions to create a unique cross-sector consortium.

MyWorld IDEAS programme provides small-medium enterprise businesses, freelancers and the public the opportunity to experiment with new technologies, creating meaningful experiences for audiences. It also offers the opportunity to test and question how these technologies are or could be applied, thereby placing people, arts and culture at the heart of new, innovative technologies.

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