the playable city:
pipe dream

environment
design + Interactive
installation.

Pipe Dream signalled my second collaboration with artist, George Zisiadis, for Watershed's 2014 Playable City Award.

Watershed describes itself as a "cultural cinema + digital creativity centre" in Bristol, UK that is the birthing ground of the Playable City concept. Defined by the centre as "a new term, imagined as a counterpoint to ‘A Smart City’. A Playable City is a city where people, hospitality and openness are key, enabling its residents and visitors to reconfigure and rewrite its services, places and stories". 

George initially approached me with an idea for a piece built around the idea of an interactive network of pipes that could allude to the urbane skeletal structure often associated with the unsightly, functional and grittier bones of a city. Pipe Dream is the visual representation of his initial idea come to life.

In the words of the artist:

"Something has possessed our city infrastructure. Across the city tangles of pipes have burst from the ground, their dozens of colourful valves and levers stick out like flowers. Adjusting them releases not water, but light and music. The pipes have transformed themselves into collaborative musical instruments. And they’re waiting for us to play with them.

Pipe Dream is an interactive musical sculpture built from actual piping. It reimagines cities’ most utilitarian and intimidating elements as exuberant and inviting opportunities for interaction. It gives pedestrians permission to tamper and play with parts of the city that are normally off limits.

The centrepiece is a massive tangle of pipes emerging from an outdoor plaza. Through playful experimentation pedestrians can figure out which valves and levers control which music and lighting effects. Several people can engage with the dozens of controls at once, creating an instant focal point for community and connection amongst strangers.

Pipe Dream’s modular construction makes it adaptable to any site. Its simple tactile interface makes it accessible to all ages and cultures. Its mashup of analogue and digital technology defies expectations and challenges our perception of the built environment’s capabilities. Pipe Dream transforms the mundane into the magical."

notable

Shortlisted for The Playable City Award 2014 Edition in Briston, UK


John James
George Zisiadis

Visual Representation + Renders
Artistic Concept