PLAYtheBLOX is an urban design game that was developed by Vancouver Design Nerds’ Mitra Mansour and Sarah Hay as a participatory design and civic engagement tool to foster dialogue and generate tangible ideas pertaining to changing neighbourhoods. It is rooted in the methodology that better public spaces are created through Placemaking as well as scalable from a single city block to an entire region. “The Placemaking process, when it is conducted with transparency and good faith from the bottom up, results in a place where the community feels ownership and engagement, and where design serves function. Here, human needs will be met and fulfilled, for the betterment of all.”
PLAYtheBLOX challenges you to re-imagine your neighbourhood through the development of creative partnerships with your neighbours. The big picture goal is an inclusive vibrant local economy, community placemaking, and positive social impact.
There is a shared perception that the only form of urban development leads to gentrification and displacement. Residents often feel that engagement processes are largely superficial to the point of civic fatigue and apathy. Evolving definitions and targets of key issues i.e. social housing, social impact, mixed use are ambiguous and in flux.
“Lack of participation and poor design. These are not only matters for planners, designers, and bureaucrats to decide in a void. Only with full public participation in the creation of public spaces can truly great places come into being. Building a city is an organic process, not a simple recipe or a one-size-fits-all pattern. Local customs must always be considered and honored. Maintenance costs must remain within reason for the community involved.”
PLAYtheBLOX: Strathcona Edition was designed to address the six social impact gaps identified by Cov’s Social Impact assessment report and encouraged participants to form partnerships and practice being good neighbours.
PLAYtheBLOX creators Sarah Hay and Mitra Mansour:
How to PLAYtheBLOX
Players are seated around a large neighbourhood map and are each given a role card. Acting/embodying their character, they are challenged to reimagine their block through the development of partnerships with their neighbours that contribute to an inclusive vibrant local economy and to community place-making. Players are encouraged to draw on the map and place public realm tiles to create a compelling visual narrative.
Game facilitators are responsible for distributing good neighbour badges/Social impact badges to the players that demonstrate real potential for positive social impact and sensitivity to the local context and needs.