CounterPlay ‘17: Playful Cities / Playful Citizens

Towns and cities have many meanings and purposes, but all too often, they are not properly designed for the people who live in them. They may be designed for efficiency, for working, for consumption, for commuting. As cities are increasingly optimized for these matters by way of massive amounts of data, they are allegedly becoming smarter.

This is all well and good, but are our urban spaces also designed for actual human beings? Do cities, by the way they are planned and the prominent architectural choices, afford us a better quality of life? Better cultural experiences? Do the public spaces challenge us to stop, think and try something new? Do they connect us with each other, allowing strangers to become friends? Are cities truly welcoming to newcomers?

We are convinced that we can radically improve cities for the future, and we suggest doing this by putting play at the heart of urban development. Play is rarely actively encouraged in urban spaces, and even more seldom is it integrated in the actual process of city planning.

When you play in a space, any space, you appropriate it through a playful takeover, renegotiating the meaning of that space. You see your town or city in a new light, you feel ownership, you realize it could be different, and you take active part in “hacking” and changing the city. Play asks questions, most importantly perhaps:

 

Who owns the cities?

To support the development of more playful cities, we now launch a special effort leading up to CounterPlay ‘17, where we invite anyone interested to participate in developing this major part of the program. We are already talking to city planners, architects, artists, game designers, researchers and the local municipality, and the diversity of the group will continue to grow. The roadmap is not yet done, but we are planning a wide range of activities before and during the festival: a/several game/play jam(s) with concepts presented and tested during the festival, several games and events around the city of Aarhus, open workshops, talks and a public debate about the playful city.

Do you want to be a part of this? Get in touch:

Mathias Poulsen: mathias@counterplay.org

Twitter: @CounterPlayFest

Read our call for proposals

CounterPlay ‘17 takes place at Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark, on March 30 – April 1 2017.

CounterPlay ‘17 takes place at Dokk1, Aarhus, Denmark, on March 30 – April 1 2017.

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