3 people stood in a room having a conversation
From left to right: Tom Metcalfe, Hilary O'Shaughnessy, Sophie Sampson ©

British Council Photo by Kenichi Aikawa

Looking towards the Future of Tokyo

The Playable City Tokyo Residency 2018 was an opportunity to collaboratively research and develop playful ideas at the intersection of art, technology, society that innovate around public space in Tokyo.

Building on the work of an ongoing Playable City Tokyo programme, the Playable City Tokyo Residency supported, inspired and challenged participants to develop playful interventions using creative technology to respond to public space in and around central Tokyo. The Playable City Tokyo 2018 Residency was awarded to Sophie Sampson and Thomas Metcalfe from 81 high quality applications responding to the open call. 

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 the 2020 Olympic Games). Building on the success of the Playful Welcome Lab in 2016, the Playable City Tokyo 2018 Residency continues the work begun in 2015. 

Phase One of the programme was a research visit to Tokyo in June 2018 to meet local creatives, explore, research and ideate around experiences for public space in central Tokyo. Phase Two was a prototyping visit to Tokyo in September 2018 to test and share ideas with the attendees of the Making the City Playable Conference 2018. The making of the prototypes was supported by time at the Pervasive Media Studio (PM Studio) in Bristol, and most importantly time to make with David Haylock, PM Studio's lead creative technologist.

Watershed were delighted to bring such exciting artists to Tokyo for this two part residency. Both Tom and Sophie bring a really interesting mix of experience and curiosity to the ever- expanding Playable City Tokyo family. Of particular interest was witnessing their very diverse approaches stimulate one another to think differently about their work over the two visits. 


The residency was considered a success by both Watershed and the artists. The aspiration for all of Watershed's international programmes is not simply to share our work in Bristol with others, but to understand and create shared language and lasting relationships that lead to collaborations and new works that are deeply rooted in the context of the place they are in. 

For the Playable City Tokyo 2018 Residency, this began and continues with extensive questioning of the concept and practice of play in Japanese life and public space in Tokyo today. The key steps when making work in cities is creating and nurturing connections with the place through visits, and conducting research involving diverse communities of people which can be done through prototyping and meeting or mixing with artists and city changemakers. For this residency, this important process was made easier for us by being based at the charming 3331 Arts Chiyoda art centre, a thriving creative space and community space. Having such a living, busy creative space for a base proved fruitful, and formed a key part of the process.

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