City x Technology x Play
The Playable City Tokyo programme launched in September 2015 with a series of three workshops. What is a playable city? Why does “play” make the city experience special? Opening with an introduction to Watershed’s Playable City platform and its background, the workshops started a UK-Japan exchange of ideas about the future city.
The Toranomon area of Tokyo, currently undergoing major redevelopment in preparation for 2020, was chosen as the field in which to research and explore new playable city ideas in Tokyo. Presenting the case for play, the workshops started by sharing examples of playful interactions that create connections – person to person, person to city. Case studies from the UK and abroad where introduced alongside old Japanese cultural traditions that exhibit a playful spirit. The fieldwork that followed encouraged participants to look closer at the city, to gain a better understanding of the current urban environment and behaviour of people in a city, and to look for opportunities that could initiate playful behaviour in a city.
In the third workshop, participants had a chance to brainstorm playable city ideas for Tokyo. Drawing on discussions and fieldwork observations from the previous sessions, participants thought up new creative uses for technology that exists in a city, how it might be used to initiate playful behaviour that creates new connections. One of the ideas that emerged was a pedestrian crossing that “senses” people who worked hard that day and to honour their effort, shines a spotlight on them and plays a fanfare as they cross the road.
Facilitated by Seiichi Saito, co-founder and creative and technical director of multi-award winning Japanese creative agency Rhizomatiks, the workshops brought together over 60 participants of varied backgrounds. Artists, designers, engineers technologists, architects, and people from the business sector came together to form the beginning of a network of people who support the playable city idea in Japan.