The Playable City

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The Playable City

Sam Hill

14th December 2012


We’re very excited to announce we’ve been shortlisted for the Playable City Award 2013.

The Playable City Award offers artists and creatives from across the world a unique opportunity to make something wonderful using creative technologies. The 2013 award will produce a work which surprises, challenges and engages people in exploring the playable city.

Pushing the boundaries and encouraging experimentation, this international award sits at the intersections of technology and culture and will champion Bristol as an international hub for cutting-edge creativity.

The commissioned work will cross cultural contexts and will be toured. It will use technology in an integrated and interesting way. It will inject a sense of wonder and meaning into public space.

The shortlist gives the public the chance to comment on the finalists ideas, critique them, and ask probing questions. Our entry is OPEN NOW for review, so have a look and share your thoughts with us.

We developed Hello Lamp Post! in collaboration with designer/ technologist Tom Armitage and media artist Gyorgyi Galik.


Our Proposition [Abridged]

To provide a clear idea of what we’re proposing, we decided to make a condensed version of our pitch document available online for public perusal. Here it is:

Downloadable version:


Individual slides:

Workshop at Goldsmiths

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Workshop at Goldsmiths

Sam Hill

19th October 2011

Ben and I went to Goldsmiths College yesterday (our old alma mater) to deliver a one-day workshop to the first years studying BA Design. Our objectives were to explain the value of a creative process, experimentation, prototyping, and to assist with their personal projects. We also did an overview on the importance of context. To get everyone started, we encouraged them to focus their critical analysis skills introspectively, get out of their comfort zone, and set out to change an element of themselves.

We only had six hours with the undergrads so we tried to fit in as much as possible. We managed a primer lecture on experiential design; a series of rapid-fire developmental sketches; prototype building; testing and presentations.

We also ran a midday experiment and debate on new experiences, and challenged everyone to try something over lunchtime they’d never had before. They were then asked them to bring some of their lunch back to the studio to discuss. We got a really nice response, with about seventy different foodstuffs being returned (and some good stories). We had plans for these, more info on which is soon to follow

The day went really well. We were both really impressed with the standard of the work that was produced, as well as the quality with which it was discussed.

This Way Up

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This Way Up

Sam Hill

20th September 2011

On Saturday we opened This Way Up to the general public, an exhibition/ auction/ workshop/ arts book store/ hardware shop built for the British Council, who are celebrating the fifteenth year of their Architecture, Design and Fashion department (and the 89 exhibitions they’ve created so far).

The event, which’ll be open during London Design Festival until Sunday 25th September is based at 31 Pitfield Street, N1 6HB (just off Old Street, round the corner from the fire station).

Exhibition & Silent Auction

Some of the work on show is being donated to the Design Museum’s permanent collection, but the rest is available to buy on site through a silent auction facilitated by Unity. There’s work from Tom Dixon, Peter Kennard, Pearson Lloyd, Sebastian Bergne, Tord Boontje, Nigel Shafran, John Davies, Michael Marriott, Anthony Burrill and Basso and Brooke.

Pete Collard selected the items for auction and has curated the exhibition, interviewing designers and workers from previous shows to provide content for the associated publication.

Proceeds raised from the auction and the rest of the show will go toward the new Brazil Future Fellowships Fund for emerging designers.

Book Corner

We’ve got arts books, catalogues and themed reading material from various exhibitions. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, some kids books are going for two or three quid, but there’s also a Juergen Teller worth about £300 for sale too.

Hardware Shop

All the stuff that the BC have used for their exhibitions is being sold off cheap to make space. We’ve got projectors, monitors, touch screens, CCTV systems, lightbulbs, tape, creepy felt mannequins, etc. etc.

“Upcycling” Workshop

Upcyclists are taking the raw materials and bits and pieces from previous exhibition builds and making new things with them that are available to buy.

Come over and say hello if you’re in the area. Entry is free.

SitRep 01

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SitRep 01

Sam Hill

2nd September 2011

Here we are, two days since our official launch. The dust is settling now from our frenzied efforts to get everything ready.

Thanks very much to everyone who’s taken the time so far to follow us on twitter and like us on facebook. We’ve had some really kind words from folk about the site, which is great to hear. It’s always a little scary offering up these kind of things to the world, so cheers guys!

I thought you might be interested to know what we’re up to at the moment. I’ll try and be as open as possible (NDA’s allowing) and give you a brief overview.

First of all, there’s more site to come – a few more folio pieces from our archive should be live soon enough. Then there’s the not-insignificant amount of subject matter to get through. I myself have a few blog-shaped thoughts bouncing around my skull which I’m feeling a compulsion to air. Plus there’s all the things going on around us that we want to talk about. Loads of stuff!

Also, we’ve got some great projects in the pipeline. We’re producing an exhibition/ event with the British Council for London Design Week, September 17-25th. It’s called This Way Up and it’s a sort of garage-sale/ exhibition/ auction and design workshop. There’s going to be work from Michael Marriott, Tom Dixon, Tord Boontje and others, as well as a live material upcycling exercise. Pete Collard is curating, writing and compiling interviews for a publication. He’s also organising some talks to take place in the space. It should be a lot of fun. We’re actually looking for assistants at the moment, so if anyone fancies a bit of summer work experience then drop us a line.

Following on from our game at Winterwell earlier in the year we’re developing another interactive piece for this coming Halloween as part of a larger event. I’ll explain that nearer the time, but the below picture sort of represents our starting point.

We’ve got a couple of user-interaction jobs on the go for websites this month – building a community mapping tool for one thing, implementing a political campaign application for another. I’ll let you know when they go live.

Aaand we’re set to continue making contributions to a creative-process blog called Think-Work-Play – which is a project run by a lovely agency called Unity.

I think that’s all the major news for now, but I’ll keep you all updated as we progress. Keeps your eyes on the feeds!