Scene from workshop

British Council, photo by Kenichi Aikawa

Connecting People and Cities

In October 2015, Clare Reddington, Creative Director of Watershed, came to Tokyo to facilitate the Playable City Tokyo Ideas Lab. The two-day lab, designed to build on the learning and network built through the preceding workshops, brought together 20 participants with backgrounds in architecture, landscape, town planning/development, design, art, engineering, and business.

Using the fieldwork observations and key discussion points from the workshop series as a base from which to start, the ideas lab took the participants on a journey to develop their understanding of a city, its people, and issues. Working in groups, the participants then entered a phase of idea generation. Taking their understanding of the city and applying the Playable City concept, to come up with original ideas for playful interactions that create connections – person to person, person to city.

At the end of the second day, six Playable City Tokyo ideas were presented (summary below) in front of an audience that included guest commentators, Seiichi Saito the Creative and Technical director of Rhizomatiks, and Kei Wakabayashi, Editor-in-Chief of WIRED Japan.

Scene from workshop

British Council, photo by Kenichi Aikawa

Scene from workshop

British Council, photo by Kenichi Aikawa

Scene from fieldwork

British Council, photo by Kenichi Aikawa

Scene from workshop

British Council Photo by Kenichi Aikawa 

Invisible Tiger

See a feline tail disappearing around the corner, smell a rich animal musk on the sidewalk, discover glowing animal prints and hear the roar of a hire-care horn. Invisible Tiger uses the Toranomon name to create a unique identity for the city and a sight-seeing adventure for people entering the area for the first time.

(by Daichi Sato, Sakura Kai and Shuntaro Taniguchi)

Playable Traffic Light

Toranoman is full of rules about what you can and can’t do – so can we introduce new rules of play? Traffic crossings become interactive with playful signs that are triggered as people step onto crossings together. "Look at the stars", "start to stretch", "talk to your neighbour "– the sign/invites change depending on the time of day and are designed to energise tired office workers and even encourage love.

(by Akio Hayashi, Noritaka Ishibayashi, Yoshihisa Yabuuchi)


Once you step inside an office elevator, everyone becomes quiet – how can we use these precious moments to join people through play? Step into an interactive lift with a projected floor - asking users to collaborate to answer questions collectively (moving themselves into the yes or no floor areas) or responding to conversation prompts. Plus, for those on the way down - Collabovator features a freefalling elevator sound – adding mischievous laughter to the end of the day.

(by Dainichiro Kakei, Hiromi Takahashi and Tomo Kihara)


Toranamon is full of road works as new Olympic avenues begin to appear. How do we stop people feeling grumpy about them, and give construction workers some fun? Interactive traffic cones are controlled by the construction worker cone conductor, lighting up in sequence as they wave their baton. The cones are completely controllable and re-programmable for holidays and events like Halloween.

(by Shinsuke Aoki and Yuka Okada)

Mirai Mirror

The Mirai Mirror blends the future facing architecture of Tornamon with its Edo past. As you walk past the mirrored façade of an ordinary looking office building, you are placed in a historic Daimyo Gyoretsu procession and fellow travellers appear next to you in parade. Unexpected and magical, the Mirai Mirror engages visitors and workers with the history of Tokyo, asking them to look anew at this mixed up site.

(by Mutsumi Abe, Naomi Iwayama and Ryuichi Fukuda)


Re-appropriating unused telephone boxes as places to play - from shout box for frustrated office workers, to laughing box containing networked contagious giggles, these intimate spaces are turned into interactive barometers which light up in panels to visualise the depth of engagement.

(by Misato Tanaka, Rurika Araki, Shin Hanagata and Tokimaru Fujita)

idea lab details

10 & 11 October 2015

Clare Reddington – Creative Director, Watershed

Seiichi Saito – Creative and Technical Director, Rhizomatiks
Kei Wakabayashi – Editor-in-chief, WIRED Japan

Toranomon Hills Forum

See also