As part of MyWorld’s IDEAS programme, six creative teams each win £45,000 Watershed Playable City commission to build prototypes that connect people to their city


Furaha Asani Portrait
"We are thrilled to announce six new Playable City prototypes, funded via MyWorld. After spending the last few years reflecting and gaining feedback on a number of themes including the democratisation of play, who has the right to play and feels safe.”
Furaha Asani, Watershed's Research Lead

Ten years ago, MyWorld partner Watershed launched the Playable City Award from their home in Bristol, inviting artists from across the globe to create playful, creative technology installations that put people and play at the heart of the future city. Over the last decade, Playable City has worked with over 74 partners and 50 creatives from Lagos to Recife, Tokyo to Melbourne, Singapore to Austin, reaching over one million people globally.

Today, MyWorld is delighted to unveil six new Playable City commissions each awarded £45,000 to build an urban prototype which will be showcased in Bristol in July 2023. The projects place play at the heart of the city, sparking imagination and conversation about inclusion, sustainability, surveillance and the future of cities.

The commissions will become part of Playable City Sandbox, a shared development programme produced by Watershed as part of MyWorld’s IDEAS programme.


The six teams and prototypes


Squeeze Me

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.

Creators: Emma Powell, Robert Nixdorf and Richard Sewell, Air Giants


The House of Weaving Song

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.

Creators: Fozia Ismail and Ayan Cimli, Dhaqan Collective


How (not) to be hit by a self-driving car

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?

Creators: Tomo Kihara, Saki Coppen and Dan Coppen, Studio Playfool


Zoomscape Zoetrope

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.

Creator: Jack Wates and Thomas Blackburn


Fireflies, a Glitch by Screaming Color and Arcane

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.

Creator: Mike Salmon, Ossian Whiley, Glitch AR and Screaming Color


Street Pixel

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.

Creators: Tom deMajo and Malath Abbas, Biome Collective and Sarah Selby


Over the course of four years, the Playable City Award has provided an inclusive playground for many cities across the globe. Stop, Smile, Stroll, injected fun into ordinary pedestrian crossings; an interactive pack of origami-like light-projected Urbanimals revealed themselves in unexpected city spaces; Shadowing inspired people to come together beneath ‘enchanted’ lamp posts that recorded their movements and echoed them back as shadows, whilst Hello Lamp Post encouraged text-based conversations between people and everyday city objects like post boxes and lamp posts.

Following the last award in 2016, the model was adapted and developed to forge long-term partnerships with like-minded producers from different cities around the world culminating in the Creative Producers International programme.

Playable City Sandbox will conclude with a public week-long showcase in Bristol in July 2023, with more details to follow.

Find out more about each of the projects by going to the Sandbox Playable City project pages.

Explore more