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Creative Construction: an evaluation of Playable City Lagos

The British Council commissioned Nesta to analyse the immediate impacts of Watershed’s Playable City Lagos workshop in March 2016.

The British Council commissioned Nesta to analyse the immediate impacts of Watershed’s Playable City Lagos workshop in March 2016. Playable City Lagos was a ten-day residency that brought together artists and creative professionals from Nigeria and the UK to devise and develop playful interventions for Africa’s biggest metropolis.

Key findings

A successful Playable City workshop will follow these two ideas:

  • The quality of what you produce matters. Taking seriously how prototypes created during the workshop might be used if they were to be turned into products lifted this experience above other international conferences or workshops.
  • Go with the grain of the experts and attitudes in the room. An open but highly curated format, which responded to each day’s output, allowed a diverse group to get out of the workshop what they wanted.

Future Playable City activities should help provide better answers to two questions:

  • How can ten days challenge urban planning or start a new industry? The nature of a workshop is that it is short-lived and intense. It produces networks and ideas that might play a part in a longer process of public and private sector innovation. 
  • Is it possible to generalise a response to the contemporary city’s issues? Insight into how local context is relevant to the success of a prototype technology would be valuable. It would enrich broader discussions about the future of urban innovation and the role of the creative economy - how to have smart city policy without recourse to a very narrow idea of a smart city. 

Produced by Watershed, in partnership with the British Council, Playable City is part of a wider programme that spans an international award, touring programmes, a network and a programme of workshops. It aims to create a protected space and time, designed for creative construction in the midst of a fast-moving city. Playable City encourages creative practices and interdisciplinary working in a more forthright - albeit short term - way than entrepreneurship programmes and tech hubs.


Jessica Bland

Jessica Bland

Jessica Bland

Principal Researcher in Futures

Jessica was a principal researcher in the Policy and Research team. She explored how Nesta could best support responsible development of disruptive technology. She organised Hot Topics…

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