Hello Lamp Post: A New Way to Engage with the City

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This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional), Italian, German

Were you in Bristol between July and September this year? If so, you may have noticed Hello Lamp Post: an interactive system offering residents and visitors an opportunity to talk to the locals – all facilitated by physical infrastructure in the city. The aim of Hello Lamp Post is to give people the chance to rediscover their local environment, to share personal memories of the city and discover the stories that others leave scattered. The project represents a chance to slow down, reflect and indulge with permission to play.

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Referring to the thousands of identification codes posted on the various elements of street furniture throughout the city, players can send text messages to particular objects, including (but not only), lamp posts, mailboxes, bollards, manholes, tanks or telephone poles.

The inspiration for Hello Lamp Post was born from the combination of two ideas. The first was that the city could be thought of as a diary through which you can walk: going to a place visited before, you will be able to trigger memories of what you were doing the last time you were there.

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The second idea was an observation. Each city’s infrastructure is already labeled with unique identifiers used for maintenance and administration. Could these codes be used in a more human and fun way, making it possible for people to interact?

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Hello Lamp Post, developed as a collaboration between PAN Studio, Tom Armitage and Gyorgyi Galik, is the winner of the 2013 Playable City Award. The Award gives artists and creatives from all over the world the unique opportunity to do something wonderful using creative technologies that surprise, challenge and engage people to explore the city from a different point of view. Transcending boundaries and encouraging experimentation, this international award is now promoting Bristol as a centre for international avant-garde creativity.

Playable City is a new term, imagined as a counterpoint to the “Smart City”. A Playable City is one where people, hospitality and openness are critical, enabling its residents and visitors to reconfigure and rewrite services, sights and stories. A public place but at the same time playful.

After two months of activity, Hello Lamp Post in Bristol is now dormant. Could a similar project work in your city?

Eleonora Taramanni graduated in Architecture in Rome, currently working at a studio in London.

Images via Hello Lamp Post