From September 15, a playful pack of wild beasts appear in unexpected places across the city of Bristol, waiting for people to play with them. Take up the dolphin’s challenge to leap together, chase a shy rabbit down the pavement or skip with a cheeky kangaroo. Lurking behind city walls and hiding in dark corners, Urbanimals are eager to brighten the day. Triggered by people passing or stopping, this magically interactive project will be created using projectors and sensors and will stretch across the whole city.
Urbanimals is the winner of the 2015 Playable City Award, produced by Watershed with support from Arts Council England, British Council, Bristol City Council, Invest Bristol and Bath, University of Bristol, University of the West of England, Future Cities Catapult and Guardian Cities. Project was created by the Laboratory for Architectural Experiments, LAX, based in Poland.
LAX is an experimental design team based in Poland, who describe themselves as practicing ‘at the edge of architecture’, testing the boundaries of urban planning, design, psychology and computation. They were working with Watershed producers across the summer in Bristol to explore their ideas, developing the technology to bring their vision to life.
Dolphin is a very friendly creature that came to Bristol from the depths of the ocean because the city simply offers a much more vibrant environment for playing. It is attracted by everything around it and loves when people join its performance. It has chosen Bristol in order to discover the hidden values of the city and encourage people to explore their living surroundings in a novel manner.
Rabbit is a tiny, sweet, small animal which feels a bit lost in the big city. Fortunately it found good shelters in Bristol’s tunnels and corridors. It is looking for a carer but it is so shy that passers-by can very rarely catch it. Try to chase it, but remember to be calm, it is very sensitive. Look at the city from a different perspective and maybe you will find the place where it hides.
Beetle is rolling the ball. It is so focused on its task it doesn’t even notice that it gets lost in the city. It wanders around Bristol and constantly stumbles over uneven pavements. It might not seems very active, but try to take over its ball and you will see how quickly it gets it back. Remember that the whole city plays, so be aware of kicking its ball into the sewage system.
LAX laboratory for architectural experiments
Architects: Anna Grajper and Sebastian Dobiesz
Playable City Judging Panel 2015: Claire Doherty, Richard Roberts, Miguel Sicart, Tim Brooke
Creative Technologist: David Haylock
Developer: Phill Tew
Unity Developer: Lukas Roper, Opposable Games
Interaction Assistant: Andrew Cook
Production Support: Richard Harbert
Product Design: Molly Price
Rigging Technician: Utopium (CPB Trans LX)
Production Coordination: Rachael Burton, Akiko Takeshita, Hazel Grian
Intern (Production Assistant): Steven Hartill
Intern (Communications and Archive): Tanya Charteris Black
Additional programming: Oliver Humpage, Stewart Morgan, Alex Heal
Public Relations: Ladbury PR
Evaluation: Pippa Jones
Special thanks: to the staff at Watershed who once again went beyond the call of duty, Ted Buffery, Helen Bream and Stephen Hilton of Bristol City Council, Steve Nightingale at Bloq Management Services, Richard Powell, Billy Lambert and Kate Barnes at the Royal Marriott Hotel, Rikki Temi and staff at Clifton Down Shopping Centre, Tom Metcalfe, Morrisons in Hartcliffe, Georgette Van Hoof.