Playing Estate Urban Game
Format Alternative Pedagogy Games Mapping
City Lublin, Poland
Playing Estate Urban Game came about as a closing format for the project ‘Tenants: Narratives around cooperative utopias’ (2014) that was implemented in housing cooperative estates that were designed in the 1960s and ‘70s in Warsaw (Przyczółek Grochowski) and Lublin (LSM, the Juliusz Słowacki settlement) by famous Polish architects Zofia and Oskar Hansen. Even though these estates have collaborative living in their DNA, their utopian character waned over time. The project revised the original intentions and assumptions of social housing together with modern architects, and engaged inhabitants of these estates in reviewing the utopian visions of the designers and confronting current needs and challenges in the neighbourhood. The game activates young citizens to become researchers of their own environment, and uses their curiosity to ask the questions that matter.
People Power KIDS AS CO-CREATORS
Get together a group of active inhabitants and representatives of different age groups, and establish intergenerational collaborations. Involve high school students, neighbours and other volunteers in the preparation and production of the game. Map the estate together, and identify interesting sites, such as hidden or closed-off spaces, small businesses, local celebrities, and so on.
Location LET’S GO OUTSIDE!
Organize a workshop for young participants to prepare them for interviewing local business owners, interesting individuals and passers-by about the spots marked on the map. Go out into the neighbourhood and really listen to their observations; what do the children notice and find important in their surroundings? Collect as much information as possible; this will fuel the tasks for the game.
Official / Legal ASK FOR PERMISSION
Talk to small business owners, directors of institutions and owners of construction sites or abandoned buildings; in other words, the people who are in charge of the spaces you want to include in the game. Ask them if it would be possible to make the space accessible for the duration of the game and if they would be willing to host the participating children as they perform a task. Discuss what the possibilities are. If they do not allow you access to the site, be creative and think of different ways to still include it in the game.
Production PREP THE GAME
Select ten to fifteen locations to host site-specific interventions. Ask their hosts or owners to be main actors during the game. Plan activities with them that involve their personal stories. Remember, the game balances on the edge between local reality and creative fiction! Create the map indicating all of the selected spots. Make sure that all tasks are clear and well-prepared on site. If possible, do a test-run to see if everything works.
Communication SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER
Combine the launch of the game with a local celebration or activity, for instance the end of the school year. It can be helpful to latch onto existing infrastructures and events in order to reach participants. Alternatively, position yourself at a spot that is frequented by (parents with) children, such as a playground or the entrance of a market, and invite kids to play the game. Potentially, you can combine the game with a different activity taking place at the start or end point of the game, like a workshop.
LSM estates continously provokes discussions between architects and art historians. Some of them seem to forget that the housing estate is not just an architecture or an urban plan. The dozen of interesting forms of blocks are inhabited by several thousands of (no less interesting!) people. In our opinion, residents are the true practitioners of the Open Form theory in housing, and our task is to strengthen their perspectives.