Symposium asks how to turn Canberra into 'playful' city

Description

Canberra will host a two-day playfulness forum this week, as authorities attempt to bring a lighter mood to the city's public spaces.

The Play, Creativity and Culture Symposium will see architects, artists, designers and academics from around the country discussing playful ways to enliven urban areas – from light and sound installations, to playground design.

Malcolm Snow: Play can animate places and spaces. Malcolm Snow: Play can animate places and spaces. Photo: Jay Cronan

One of the speakers is Chad Toprak, a game designer and director of Freeplay, Australia's longest-running and largest independent games festival.

Mr Toprak organises large-scale public electronic gaming events that encourage people with different backgrounds and interests to play with one another in urban spaces.

"A lot of games we tend to show and play are social games or spectator games – they're not only fun to play, but fun to watch and engaging for passers-by," he said.

"Bringing games to places that are not traditionally known to have games – libraries, public transport, laneways – can change the way we interact with cities and the other people living in them."

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Mr Toprak said game designers, like skateboarders and people who did parkour, looked at the city through a different lens to others.

"As game designers we look at a city we see potential and possibility in the facades of buildings, in alleyways, in corners of the city," he said.

Chad Toprak, photographed with his jogging buddy, an autonomous robot drone helicopter. Chad Toprak, photographed with his jogging buddy, an autonomous robot drone helicopter. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

"It's great to have games in unexpected places that people can stumble upon – we're always looking to create those opportunities for people."

The event is driven by the ACT government's City Renewal Authority, whose new chief executive, Malcolm Snow, is tasked with redesigning Northbourne Avenue and the city centre. It is being organised by the University of Canberra, which is charging entry to cover catering.

Mr Snow said people often cited "a feeling of connectedness" when asked what they wanted from their cities – something playfulness can produce.

"Successful cities aren't created merely through grand design projects and bold architectural statements but are created through how people interact with each other and the spaces they are in," he said.

"Play not only attracts children and families into the city but it can animate places and spaces to engage people and add to the user's experience."

Ruth McDermott and Ben Baxter run the McDermott Baxter Light Studio, creating light installations that encourage community interaction.

They want their light art to draw people into urban areas, particularly at night time.

"Sometimes cities get into a case of bland-scape – there's lots of uniformed lighting, but nothing exciting," Mr Baxter said.

"Light art gives some glamour to the area, makes things sparkle and helps with interactivity."

Ms McDermott said Canberra needed to focus on its own strengths, rather than follow the trends of other cities.

"It's a matter of people identifying what's unique and interesting about Canberra, not trying to reproduce some grimy, downtown Manhattan thing," she said.

"Rather than imposing something on the city, it's about finding that works for each particular space."

The Play, Creativity and Culture Symposium is at the Theo Notarus Multicultural Centre on Wednesday November 22 and 23.

 
 

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Period21 Nov 2017

Media contributions

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Media contributions

  • Title Symposium asks how to turn Canberra into 'playful' city
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletThe Canberra Times
    Media typePrint
    CountryAustralia
    Date21/11/17
    DescriptionCanberra will host a two-day playfulness forum this week, as authorities attempt to bring a lighter mood to the city's public spaces. The Play, Creativity and Culture Symposium will see architects, artists, designers and academics from around the country discussing playful ways to enliven urban areas – from light and sound installations, to playground design. Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Malcolm Snow: Play can animate places and spaces. Malcolm Snow: Play can animate places and spaces. Photo: Jay Cronan One of the speakers is Chad Toprak, a game designer and director of Freeplay, Australia's longest-running and largest independent games festival. Mr Toprak organises large-scale public electronic gaming events that encourage people with different backgrounds and interests to play with one another in urban spaces. Related Articles Canberra's new City Renewal Authority boss named Boundaries of Northbourne Avenue corridor precinct revealed "A lot of games we tend to show and play are social games or spectator games – they're not only fun to play, but fun to watch and engaging for passers-by," he said. "Bringing games to places that are not traditionally known to have games – libraries, public transport, laneways – can change the way we interact with cities and the other people living in them." Advertisement Mr Toprak said game designers, like skateboarders and people who did parkour, looked at the city through a different lens to others. AM & PM Update Newsletter Get the latest news and updates emailed straight to your inbox. By submitting your email you are agreeing to Fairfax Media's terms and conditions and privacy policy. "As game designers we look at a city we see potential and possibility in the facades of buildings, in alleyways, in corners of the city," he said. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Chad Toprak, photographed with his jogging buddy, an autonomous robot drone helicopter. Chad Toprak, photographed with his jogging buddy, an autonomous robot drone helicopter. Photo: Craig Sillitoe "It's great to have games in unexpected places that people can stumble upon – we're always looking to create those opportunities for people." The event is driven by the ACT government's City Renewal Authority, whose new chief executive, Malcolm Snow, is tasked with redesigning Northbourne Avenue and the city centre. It is being organised by the University of Canberra, which is charging entry to cover catering. Mr Snow said people often cited "a feeling of connectedness" when asked what they wanted from their cities – something playfulness can produce. "Successful cities aren't created merely through grand design projects and bold architectural statements but are created through how people interact with each other and the spaces they are in," he said. "Play not only attracts children and families into the city but it can animate places and spaces to engage people and add to the user's experience." Ruth McDermott and Ben Baxter run the McDermott Baxter Light Studio, creating light installations that encourage community interaction. They want their light art to draw people into urban areas, particularly at night time. "Sometimes cities get into a case of bland-scape – there's lots of uniformed lighting, but nothing exciting," Mr Baxter said. "Light art gives some glamour to the area, makes things sparkle and helps with interactivity." Ms McDermott said Canberra needed to focus on its own strengths, rather than follow the trends of other cities. "It's a matter of people identifying what's unique and interesting about Canberra, not trying to reproduce some grimy, downtown Manhattan thing," she said. "Rather than imposing something on the city, it's about finding that works for each particular space." The Play, Creativity and Culture Symposium is at the Theo Notarus Multicultural Centre on Wednesday November 22 and 23.
    Producer/AuthorJack Price
    PersonsCathy Hope