Watershed has announced the shortlist for the third international Playable City Award, which launched earlier this year. Bristol’s Pervasive Media Studio is offering a prize of £30K to creatives who can make Bristol more liveable, hopeful and collaborative.

The challenge went out to artists, designers, architects, technologists and creative practitioners from all over the world to propose new and distinctive ideas that put people and play at the heart of the City.

In addition to the prize, the winner will become part of the vibrant community of creatives at the Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, offering generous access to facilities, support and opportunities for collaboration.

From 197 entries from 60 countries around the world, the seven shortlisted projects (see below) are being shared online for you to ask questions of the creators and share your comments with the Award judging panel.

Following in previous winner’s shadow

Last year the winner was the much acclaimed ‘Shadowing‘ project, where, Bristol’s street lights were given a memory, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who passed underneath. You can see more in the video below:


This year’s winner will be announced on Tuesday 9 June 2015 with the successful artwork unveiled in Bristol in September. This year the winner will also be given the opportunity to travel to Japan in the autumn to share their project as part of Watershed and British Council’s new Playable City Tokyo programme.

The shortlisted companies

The seven shortlisted companies are listed below, if you like the sound of any of them, why not pop along to the project page and let the judges know?

Lighting Conductor from Strange Thoughts Ltd

lightingconductorlowLighting Conductor is an interactive installation that 
allows Bristolians to conduct their very own light orchestra through the movement of their bodies.

Little else produces such public amazement and enjoyment as apparent telekinesis. With a simple swish of an arm a user will be able to send a pulse of light shooting along any path they aim at in their local park.

The pulse of light will then continue up into the tree at the end of the path, illuminating the entire tree with an array of mesmerising colours. The more forceful the movement: the brighter and faster the pulse.

See more or comment.


Puffin Jam from Unsworn Industries 

puffin-jamPuffin Jam adds musical interactivity to pedestrian crossings.

In selected pedestrian crossings in the city, push-button units are replaced with similar looking boxes that, in addition to the existing controls and displays, also provide a touch interface for generating sounds of different tonalities and timbres.

Pedestrians play musical notes while waiting for the lights to change, encouraging subtle and playful communication with pedestrians on the other side.

See more or comment.


Supernatural from Kevin Walker and Yuri Suzuki

supernaturalSupernatural re-wires and re-wilds the city, giving magical properties to natural materials in historical locations. Wood, water and soil act as musical instruments, when you approach and touch them.

Taking cues from Bristol’s occult history, Supernatural is a series of magical/musical instruments sited at unlikely locations of historic interest around Bristol. The instruments appear as common natural materials – plants, soil, water – identified by a graphical symbol.

See more or comment.


Take a Seat from Happy City Lab

Take A Seat happy city labTake a Seat encourages strangers to meet and interact over a familiar piece of urban furniture.

We see benches as inert objects every day. We pass by them, most of the time just rushing on our journey through the city. Take a Seat is an LED, sensor covered bench placed on a public square. Alone, it shines and blinks to attract people’s attention.

When someone comes and sits down, it comes to life – encouraging movements from the person sitting, attracting other potential sitters, and getting them to interact.

See more or comment.


Urbanimals from Lax

urbanimalsCurious creatures appear in unexpected areas of the city, lifting your spirit with an invitation encouraging you to play. A dolphin, rabbit, kangaroo and beetle appear located in places of transition, places where people often do not contemplate their surroundings.

The project of Urbanimals is designed to break that process of habituation in which people get used to the affordances of built environment.

LAX use urban details to highlight the city’s hidden value, in the same manner Banksy gives deeper sense to dilapidated building walls.

See more or comment.


Whispering Clouds from Tine Bech

whispering clouds tine bech Two fluffy clouds hang over the city – lighting up and displaying people’s messages and encouraging people to play and connect. Hanging over the streets, these beautiful, colourful clouds explore new ways of communicating in the city, inviting people to send messages to each other via the clouds.

Whispering Clouds does not judge you; it asks you to play, to contemplate how we share and to create new ways of communicating in public spaces.

A playful physical manifestation of the digital cloud, the project combines sculpture, sound and technology and plays (ironically) with the concept of cloud computing and privacy.

See more or comment.


Why Sit When You Can Play from The Urban Conga

Why Sit When You Can Play from The Urban Conga“Why sit when you can play” reimagines public benches to create a platform for people to come together through music, light, and fun. Marimba like benches placed in community areas invite passers-by to play and learn music through colour and creativity.

Why sit when you can play creates an active playful free-choice environment by transforming public park benches into musical instruments that teach music through colour.

Using simple but effective LED and sensor technology, the bench will not only be active during the day, but at night each note will trigger LEDs in the street lights and on surrounding buildings that will begin to light up the city and allow others all around to engage in the activity.

See more or comment.

You can keep up to date with the latest about the competition from Playable Cities by following them on Twitter: @PlayableCity

And to see more amazing and innovation creative tech from the West of England region, don’t miss Venturefest Bristol & Bath – a showcase of innovation, entrepreneurship and investment opportunities.