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Speaking at dConstruct 2011

I am real­ly pleased to be speak­ing at dCon­struct this year. I’ve attend­ed the con­fer­ence myself sev­er­al times and always enjoy the well-curat­ed pro­gram and the good things offered by the event’s home, love­ly Brighton. You’ll find the abstract I sub­mit­ted below. Have a look at the con­fer­ence site for the rest of the pro­gram — which is stel­lar, I’m hon­ored to be part of it — and make sure to grab a tick­et once they go on sale on July 5th.

When you think of a city, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most like­ly it is the stuff that it is made up of: its streets and build­ings, its parks and squares. But what sets a city apart, aside from its archi­tec­ture, is how all that stuff is put to use. A city’s nightlife, a city’s cui­sine, a city’s cul­ture. In oth­er words, what peo­ple make of the space they live in when they are at play.

Play isn’t lim­it­ed to the “soft side” of urban­ism. In fact, it turns out a build­ing isn’t some pre­fixed struc­ture capa­ble of doing one thing only. Adap­ta­tion and reuse con­tin­u­ous­ly trans­form what a city’s archi­tec­ture is for, often from the bot­tom up. In this way, a city’s peo­ple shape their homes as well, quite lit­er­al­ly.

What is at work in this process of city trans­for­ma­tion, is noth­ing less than play. In cities, just as in games, peo­ple and the space they inhab­it shape each oth­er. Thus, in our West­ern cities, where reuse is over­tak­ing con­struc­tion of new space, we are all becom­ing archi­tects.

In this ses­sion Kars looks at how game cul­ture and play shape the urban fab­ric, how we might design sys­tems that improve people’s capac­i­ty to do so, and how you your­self, through play, can trans­form the city you call home.

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