Bristol, the city that talks back

Bristol’s PAN Studio, winners of the first Playable City Award, are set to awaken the city’s urban landscape by enabling its residents to interact with a variety of public objects and street furniture

Bristol’s PAN Studio, winners of the first Playable City Award, are set to awaken the city’s urban landscape by enabling its residents to interact with a variety of public objects and street furniture…

The aim of the Playable City Award is to commission art projects based on the brief of turning cities into playable spaces.

The inaugural £30,000 award was given to Ben Barker and Sam Hill from PAN Studio who, in collaboration with Gyorgyi Galik and Tom Armitage, have been developing the Hello Lamp Post project at the Watershed arts venue in Bristol.

Launching on July 15, participants will need to visit to access a special local phone number. They can then explore the city to find codes on any item of street furniture – lamp posts, post boxes, bins, bus stops, bollards and phone boxes (these are normally used to identity the objects when they are in need of repair).

Every post box, for example, has a unique 6-7 digit code written underneath the collection time.

These unique codes will then enable players to spark up a text message conversation with the particular object. The more people the objects interact with, the more they will have to say – adding to what the organisers call “the city’s conversation”.

Users must send their first text to the number provided in the format “Hello” + name of object + #codeofobject (for example “Hello lamp post #123456”) and wait for a reply.

Hello Lamp Post begins on July 15 in Bristol. More details at

Pink Floyd fans may recognise the cover of our June issue. It’s the original marked-up artwork for Dark Side of the Moon: one of a number of treasures from the archive of design studio Hipgnosis featured in the issue, along with an interview with Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis with the late, great Storm Thorgerson. Elsewhere in the issue we take a first look at The Purple Book: Symbolism and Sensuality in Contemporary Illustration, hear from the curators of a fascinating new V&A show conceived as a ‘walk-in book’ plus we have all the regular debate and analysis on the world of visual communications.

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