A foreign tourist and Japanese citizen having a conversation in the city

British Council Photo by Kenichi Aikawa 

Putting people and play at the heart of the future city

The British Council and the Watershed sought two UK-based creative professionals to participate in a two-stage Playable City Tokyo Residency in June and September 2018 through a public open call that ran between April and May 2018. Below is the original information for the open call (this opportunity has now closed).

The Playable City Tokyo Residency is an opportunity to collaboratively research and develop playful ideas at the intersection of art, technology, society that innovate around public space in Tokyo. We are offering two places for creative people from any discipline who believe we can start a new kind of city conversation through play.

Building on the work of an ongoing Playable City Tokyo programme, the Playable City Tokyo Residency 2018 will support, inspire and challenge participants to develop playful interventions using creative technology to respond to public space in and around central Tokyo.

Playable City Tokyo 2018 is organised by the British Council and JKD Collective Inc., produced by Watershed and supported by Rhizomatiks. It is a Tokyo Tokyo Festival Grant Program and is supported by Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture.

The Process

Through a programme of locations visits, research activities and guidance from local creatives, the Playable City Tokyo Residency programme will encourage participants to generate imaginative ideas, consider local and global contexts, research and develop prototypes and make valuable connections with each other and Tokyo, that will last beyond the end of the programme.

Phase One: Ideation and Development

Phase One of the programme is a research visit to Tokyo in June to meet local creatives, explore, research and ideate around experiences and prototypes for public space in and around central Tokyo. Residents will be hosted at a Creative Studio in Tokyo for the duration of the visit and accompanied by a Playable City Producer. Once ideas have been formulated, the chosen creatives will benefit from structured mentoring and support sessions from a Creative Technologist and Playable City Producer at the Pervasive Media Studio In Watershed to develop and prepare the work.

Phase Two: Presentation and Reflection

Phase Two of the programme is a production visit to Tokyo in September to test and finalise the presentation of the prototype pieces for the attendees of the Making the City Playable Conference 2018 and the general public. This will include presentation of the process to attendees of the conference.


We are offering two places for creatives with an open, rigorous and experimental approach, willing to produce work that is exposed, tested and investigated as it is developed. Creatives will be encouraged to focus on exploration and proof of concept, rather than completion of a finished product. Participants may be artists, designers, architects, urbanists, magicians, interaction designers, technologists or other kinds of professional creative practitioners who can demonstrate a history of delivering high quality, innovative professional practice in public. We welcome applications from BAME, LGBTQI, Deaf and disabled practitioners as they are currently underrepresented in public space work. We will work with you to ensure your access needs are met.

The scheme is not aimed at undergraduate students, students in full time education, or those living outside of the UK.

Successful Applicants will be awarded

  • 3,750 GBP Honorarium for the programme
  • UK-Tokyo economy-class return flights, accommodation and per diems for the duration of both visits to Japan
  • Support from Playable City Producer and Creative Technologist for delivery of prototypes
  • Access to the International Playable City Network including the 15 members of Creative Producers International, Watershed’s global talent development programme designed to support the city change makers of the future
  • Professional documentation of the work, including images and promotional video of the project

What we expect from you

  • Full attendance for the entire duration of both parts of the Tokyo residency and participation in mentoring sessions at the PM Studio in Bristol
  • Presentation and demonstration of a prototype piece at the Making the City Playable Conference 2018
  • An open, rigorous, experimental approach
  • Participation in evaluation

Assessment Criteria

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • How will participation in the project develop and enrich the applicant’s practice?
  • Quality and applicability of past and/or current work in public space.
  • Does the applicant demonstrate a willingness to work collaboratively on development of ideas?
  • What is the potential impact of the project for the applicant, beyond the timescale of the programme?


Applications Open: 26 April 2018

Applications Close: 16 May 2018, 17:00 BST

Successful Applicants notified by: 28 May 2018

Residency Stage One: 25 June - 4 July 2018 (including travel days)

Watershed Mentoring Sessions: To be arranged with participants based on availability.

Residency Stage Two: 22 - 30 September 2018 (including travel days)

Making the City Playable Conference (Tokyo): 28 September 2018

What is a Playable City?

Playable City® puts people and play at the heart of the Future City.

All over the world governments and tech companies are investing in smart systems for cities, using networks and sensors to join up services and collect data, as a drive for efficiency. The Playable City Award asks us to imagine instead how might we make them more livable, open and human.

Playable City is a framework to think differently about the city, generating social dialogue by creating shared experiences through play. Visible, democratic, surprising, inclusive – it re-uses the city infrastructure to create connections – person to person, person to city. By transforming city spaces into places of unexpected interaction the Playable City is a conversation starter towards the change we would like to see in our cities of the future.

The Playable City international network has reached from the UK to Recife, Brazil and Lagos, Nigeria. You can read more about this on the Playable City website.

Playable City Tokyo

Playable City Tokyo launched in 2015 to develop imaginative new ideas for urban spaces and to engage communities in thinking about the future of Tokyo (particularly in the run up to Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Games). Since 2016, a multiannual programme of creative labs including the Playful Welcome, presentation of previous Playable City Award Winners and public presentations have created a local network of creatives, producers and supporters including Rhizomatiks.

The Playable City Tokyo Residency 2018 will build upon the energy, creativity and learning of previous Playable City Tokyo activity. Participants will create and deliver prototype experiences for the public and attendees of the Making the City Playable Conference on 28-29 September.