As announced earlier in the year ‘The City of Play’ are very pleased to be represented in Japan as a fellow of the British Council’s ELEVATE Startwell™ Challenge: Reimagining Childhood Play.
The ELEVATE Startwell™ Challenge, presented by the British Council in partnership with the Lien Foundation, is focused on developing innovative new concepts to improve early childhood play.
The Challenge invited applicants from a range of industries – including design, art, performance, education and technology – to use their creative skills to imagine new and exciting ways for children to engage with play spaces – indoors, outdoors, in urban or natural spaces, conceptually or technologically.
As one of the creators of the best 12 ideas, chosen from the UK, Asia and Australia, our design leader, Grant Menzies, is attending the ELEVATE Innovation Camp in held in Tokyo and Yamaguchi, Japan.
Grant and his fellow Innovators have been very privileged to partake in a ‘Play Safari’ (details to follow) experiencing the best in ‘Play’ that Tokyo has to offer and are now further developing their ideas at the prestigious Yamaguchi Centre for Arts and Media.
The ELEVATE Startwell™ Challenge fellows are:
Grant Menzies, Scotland, UK
“I am a Director of The City of Play, where my business is Architecture for Childhood: delivering the social, health, learning and economic benefits of play through design, engagement and consultancy. I have came to Japan to explore and develop the concept of ‘Places of Play’ as opposed to ‘for’ play. I believe the freewheeling and incidental nature of play cannot be confined to the ‘playground’ and I would like to explore what impact this has on architecture, planning and urban design.”
Chloe Meineck, England, UK
“I am a designer based in Bristol in the Pervasive Media Studio in Watershed. I am interested in how objects can be tokens to symbolise, support and cement parts of our identities and can be used to support people’s wellbeing. I work directly with the people her ideas are helping, getting them into the design process, designing with them not for them. I use a mixture of interactive technologies, with beautiful crafted objects to create objects and experiences to become heirlooms.”
Ben Barker, England, UK
“Designer at Pan Studio who make playful systems and city scale installations that challenge how and where we play. We create experiences which try to impart a sensory, emotional or intellectual stimulation. Often working with technology to enable new forms of exchange and let people connect over distance and time. We create games such as Run an Empire, a city wide platform for play and Hello Lamp Post which is a playful system that lets players talk to city infrastructure. I’m in Japan working on a project called Alpha beaters that turns the home into a musical instrument by drumming on things in the home.”
Paul Drury, England, UK
“I work as a Culture Editor, which involves a combination of publicity, production & partnerships. Trained as a journalist, now works at award-winning marketing agency Unity and has completed three international projects for the British Council. Paul is interested in how people, places & play interact and how this knowledge can be used to make connections between the sponsors, partners, and creates publicity. He is particularly interested in play’s legacy – how it changes people, what it leaves behind and what it really means. In Japan he is developing a work-in-progress project called PlayCollected, which is an interactive crowdsourced map of Play – which connects across generations and across borders. A gamified WikiPlay essentially.”
James Sale, England, UK
“Pop Up Parks has been brining vibrancy, playfulness and creativity to inner city streets London for the past 18 months. We work with young children and their families to co-create spaces that transform our urban environment. Together we build local connections between people and places, and providing opportunities to get active, explore nature, and take time to relax, right on the pavements and estates where we live. In each location we pop up a number of times over two to three months, before working with local partners and stakeholders to develop legacy projects that create more permanent interventions. With my practice rooted in collaborative architecture and making, I take a lead role in physical design at Pop Up Parks. As a co-founder I also aim to help promote and grow our organisation, spreading our insight and learning from others, both locally and across the world.”
Sumitra Pasupathy, Singapore
“I am a play placemaker and I co-founded Playeum the children centre for creativity. We believe that children are inherently competent and have a strong creative voice, given the right environment. We collaborate with creative practitioners and children to develop experiences where children can take charge of their making and development process. We hope to have a dedicated centre very soon, where artists, designers, makers and technologists can engage with children. To date the centre has co-developed over 150 prorgammes with over 100 creative partnerships locally and internationally. Ultimately, the centre aspires to be a research centre that advocates play and changes mindsets with educators, parents and the community on the power of children!”
Francis Sollano, Philippines
“I’m an installation and fashion artiste manipulating and making use of trash and garbage to create spaces and wearable art. Currently, our non-profit organisation, Youth for a Livable Cebu, is working on The Great Urban Challenge – a city wide project which aims to revitalise decaying urban spaces through green and art-focused pocket parks. Its multi-stakeholder approach allows various community players to work together towards putting in new life and vibrancy in communities. As these spaces are revitalised, communities experience an improved state of their livability, decreasing factors that are normally deemed as community threats. The program is highly replicable and can be introduced in different communities across the globe.”
Ngai Yuen Low, Malaysia
“Educated with a degree in science, worked for over a decade in broadcasting, creating content that matters and having had full exposure to retail with one of the world’s largest retailer; I am now all about providing access to the arts, to a solution driven community through making; and towards a stronger voice for the young. International collaboration, incubating new works and new ideas into actionable and impactful programs, as well as heritage development movement in order to remain relevant to the next generation have been my contribution. At ELEVATE, I am experimenting with play as my next tool to engage and spread knowledge and innovation. I want to combine exploration of collaboration and new ideas through play. Resourceful and ever ready to make useful lasting change, I am game to make things happen – drop me a line!”
Fakhrizal Nashr, Indonesia
“There is a nice African proverb, that we need a whole village to raise a child. Kids in most of the villages in Indonesia are not considered competent to be involved in a village planning. As a consequence, there is no designated play ground areas for them. I am now facilitating three villages in West Java and East Kalimantan with Yayasan Anak Kampung Cimande (YAKC) and Yayasan Komunitas Belajar Indonesia (YAKOBI) to develop a collaborative play ground mapping areas for children and endorsing the areas as a public land. This is a new hope for many children as the mapping will be a tool to revive children connection with their own local culture, nature and people. The lessons from the program will be a model for NGO’s and can be replicated to other villages. Support our program to create much greener, cultural friendly and playable villages for more children in Indonesia”
Bronwyn Cumbo, Australia
“I’m an interaction designer and composer and design playful experiences to connect people to the natural world. I’m currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Technology, Sydney, exploring how digital tools may be co-designed to inspire children to play independently in their local natural places. This research is being undertaken with local families in Aalborg, Denmark and Sydney, Australia. The interactive audio experiences I design aim to evoke affective and critical responses to the human – nature relationship in today’s modern world. Most recent installations include Aural Fixation (City, Data, Future Exhibition; Split, 2014 and Venice, 2014), and Flotsam and Jetsam (Hijinks Festival, Sydney 2014).”
Neil Hobbs, Australia
“I like to activate spaces through installations and creating the unexpected. I am a landscape architect that works across public realm at all scales from laneways to large urban areas. I work with artists and artisans to introduce variety and fine grain to space, working with texture, form, colour and reflectivity to change perception. My goal is to provoke memorable responses for participants in the space. Spaces need to be inclusive for all cultures, and all abilities and all ages of users”
Dang Thi Minh Thu, Vietnam
“I am Art Director of Kidstallation (from Tohe Social Enterprise) in Vietnam. I want to know more about the relationship and the interactivity between space, play and community. I would love to activate spaces through installation art where not only children can engage but also the public. I want to collaborate with artists, working with different materials, texture, form and colour to change the environment around us. I want to find the way to connect with different partners and sponsors. My goal is to break down the educational structure, especially the art programme. I hope that I could put different subjects, e.g: science, history and art together, where the arts and creativity are in the centre.”