As our planet is rapidly urbanizing, techno-utopian visions of future urban life are gaining considerable traction. However, numerous people argue that envisioning and shaping our urban future is a challenge of the imagination rather than a technological challenge. “What if?” is the key imaginative question. What if things were different? Instead of tech-driven scenarios, we need to turn to more imaginative playful urban futuring. Imaginative and playful media, design, and artistic interventions, we argue, may foster criticality (questioning the status quo), speculation (opening up possible alternatives), and performativity (producing potential realities). The notion of a playful or playable city has been proposed as a research and design agenda aiming to deploy play and games to harness citizen creativity in city-making. It promotes a people-centric view of (smart) cities in which citizens themselves learn, negotiate and create innovations through play and games.

In this edition of the MAB20 Livecast Series, we ask: How can we envision and experiment with playful future alternatives for urban life? We connect the challenge of creating meaningful and impactful futuring vision of urban life, often through games and playful simulations, with the overarching theme #FuturesImplied of the present edition of the Media Architecture Biennale.

The moderators Michiel de Lange and Nanna Verhoeff are founders of the Utrecht University based research platform [urban interfaces] that focuses on mobile and situated media, arts, performances and socio-spatial practices of urban culture. In this livecast, they will bring together speakers from Utrecht University and the Amsterdam School of Applied Science, bringing together different expertise, ranging from science fiction, game design, to sustainability and methodologies of futuring.

This Live cast is organized by Pakhuis de Zwijger and The Media Architecture Biennale 20 (MAB20), which will take place on June 28th – July 2nd, 2021 in an online format. MAB is an international forum exploring media architecture, urban interaction design, and urban informatics. It brings together architects, artists, designers, academics, policymakers, and industry stakeholders from around the globe. Together, they explore the design and role of media in the built environment and its implications for urban communities and ecosystems.

For more information about MAB20’s Calls, Meetups and Pre-Events, visit:

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