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Urban Conga Comes to Downtown Clearwater for a Three-Week Exhibition on Playable Cities

The design firm will create interactive experiences at Second Century Studios and throughout downtown to encourage engaging public spaces
Post Date:10/29/2019 11:05 AM

Rosemary D'Amour
Public Relations Program Manager
City of Clearwater
Community Redevelopment Agency
(727) 562-4024
rosemary.damour@myclearwater.com

The city of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will bring The Urban Conga, a design firm promoting community activity and social interaction through play, to Second Century Studios in Downtown Clearwater Nov. 1 – 22. The three-week exhibition will provide hands-on opportunities for residents and visitors to learn creative ways to make our cities more engaging.

This exhibition is a first-of-its-kind for Downtown Clearwater and for The Urban Conga, and will be free and open to the public Thursdays through Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m.

The exhibition comes at a time when cities around the country are searching for meaningful ways to engage with residents. The idea of “playable cities,” which use creative and interactive installations and design in public spaces to engage the community, offers a unique route to achieve that goal, adding social value that impacts a city’s identity, health and even economic prosperity.

“Our public spaces should be vibrant and welcoming, but they should also be fun. And The Urban Conga will help give Downtown Clearwater a taste of what that would look like,” said Amanda Thompson, CRA director. “We’re excited to offer this opportunity for our downtown residents and visitors to experience what playable cities are all about.”

“A Playable City looks at the idea for play to exist in everyday spaces like a park bench, bus stop, cross walk, street lamp, or just your everyday space in-between,” said Ryan Swanson, founder of The Urban Conga. “We are looking at how these often once boring or underutilized situations can turn into stimulating, creative outlets for social interaction and community activity for all demographics through open-ended play.”

The Urban Conga’s exhibition and programming at Second Century Studios will feature an interactive touch sensor display with projected animations that will guide people through the values and importance of a playable city, as well as ideas and ways to implement play in urban spaces.

There will also be hands-on ways for people to create ideas through The Urban Conga’s Kit of Imagination, an idea board and curated walks through the city looking at how we can adapt pre-existing infrastructure to be playable. All events will be free and open to the public.

Events during The Urban Conga’s exhibition include:

  • Nov. 9, 1 – 2 p.m.: Enjoy a playful scavenger hunt through Downtown Clearwater exploring ideas of how existing infrastructure and spaces can begin to become more playable. Meet at Second Century Studios, 331 Cleveland St. No RSVP required.
  • Nov. 14, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.: Enjoy a playful scavenger hunt through Downtown Clearwater exploring ideas of how existing infrastructure and spaces can begin to become more playable. Meet at Second Century Studios, 331 Cleveland Street. No RSVP required.
  • Nov. 22, 6 – 8:30 p.m.: Public lecture, exhibit and networking event with creative producers Anel Moldakhmetova (Almaty, Kazakhstan), Leticia Lozano (Mexico City), and Ryan Swanson (Brooklyn, NY) on “City Change Through Play.” Get details and RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/city-change-through-play-tickets-77863242053

The exhibition will culminate in a three-day workshop and lecture focused on “City Change Through Play,” bringing together a select group of municipalities, institution leaders and others to work together to think of innovative, playful ways to create a better city for the future. The workshop will be led by Ryan Swanson, (founder of The Urban Conga) and two international creative producers, Anel Moldakhmetova (Almaty, Kazakhstan) and Leticia Lozano (Mexico City), whose work focuses on city change through play in different ways and at different scales. The participants will develop a real-life urban play project, and leave with strategies on how to implement it. The lecture featuring Moldakhmetova, Lozano and Swanson on Nov. 22 will be open to the public.

The CRA worked with The Urban Conga earlier this year for a three-week installation of “Oscillation,” interactive structures that use light and sound and respond to movement, at Station Square Park in Downtown Clearwater.

This temporary exhibition is part of the CRA’s broader initiative to support high-quality, participatory programming that showcases the unique assets of Downtown Clearwater and the surrounding area.

To schedule a visit to Second Century Studios and your group’s “Play Date” with The Urban Conga, contact Tarin Mohajeri, CRA program coordinator, at tarin.mohajeri@myclearwater.com or 727-337-0486.


The City of Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency

The city of Clearwater’s Community Redevelopment Agency aims to promote Downtown Clearwater’s ongoing neighborhood revitalization through programs and initiatives that strengthen and stimulate our local economy and community. For more information, visit downtownclearwater.com


The Urban Conga

The Urban Conga is an international award-winning multidisciplinary design firm promoting community activity and social interaction through open ended play. They achieve this by creating interactive installations and environments that spark creativity, exploration, and free-choice learning within the built environment. http://www.theurbanconga.com/

Speaker Bios / Headshots



Anel Moldakhmetova is a cultural projects curator and creative producer, expert in cultural programming and strategic communications, creative producer at Cityzen Space studio, specializing on urban research and city and community development projects. Anel is also responsible for strategic communications and project coordination. In 2018, she initiated a Future City Manifesto project dedicated to involving local citizens in collective envisioning Almaty City Future and participating in city masterplan. In 2019, Anel launched a project called Cityzen Playground (Adamdarga_alandar) dedicated to research of quality of public space and access to cultural leisure in non-central city areas by organizing series of local neighborhood festival using pop-up pavilion. 

Since 2016, Anel is a curator and producer of Archcode Almaty project (research and preservation of architectural heritage of the city), a-co-founder of Urban Talks Almaty (educational and discussion platform for city activists and professionals, promoting changes in the city through professional talks, open lectures, workshops, field research, networking and expertise.) She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Oriental Studies, specializing on Japanese language, history and culture. Anel is also a community connections specialist, working with involving civil activists in city development.  Her professional activity includes community building strategies, strategic communication, placemaking, urban data research and consultancy. Anel is based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She has lived and worked in Bogota, Moscow, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Astana and Almaty. Since 2017, Anel was selected as a member of Creative Producers International cohort through international open call and currently works on developing city changes in Almaty in the framework of Playable Cities program supervised by Watershed (UK).

Leticia Lozano is the co-founder and director of MACIA Estudio, a transdisciplinary practice challenging the boundaries between architecture, experience design and applied research. She has designed and implemented placemaking strategies, urban interventions, participation methodologies and public policy recommendations from a child-centered focus for various international organizations, governments and universities. Prior to MACIA Estudio, Leticia led “Playful City” for four years, an action-research strategy to demonstrate how play and playfulness can become urban design and development tools at Mexico City Government's Lab for the City.

She is assistant lecturer on Public Policy & Design at the MA Design Studies in CENTRO, member of the Creative Producers International program from at Watershed and fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar. Leticia holds a BArch from Universidad de las Americas Puebla and an MA in Narrative Environments from Central Saint Martins, UAL.

https://maciaestudio.com/ / @maciaestudio
https://www.leticia-lozano.com/ / @lozano_lety / @letysintwiter




Ryan Swanson is a creator, architect, placemaker and the Founder /CEO of The Urban Conga, an international award-winning multidisciplinary design firm that promotes community activity and social interaction through open ended play. They achieve this by creating interactive installations and environments that spark creativity, exploration, and free-choice learning into the built environment. The work ranges from their playable products such as musical public park benches, public ping pong tables, sound sculptures, touch sensor murals to custom immersive environments for both public and private clients. Their work has achieved a multitude of international design awards and publications.

Along with running The Urban Conga, Ryan is a lecturer that has spoken and run workshops in a multitude of countries including Japan, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, and more. He was also a visiting professor at The University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design for the past two years. Where he was working with students on exploring the importance of different scaled interventions within the urban infrastructure. He also was selected by The British Council as a part of fifteen exceptional Creative Producers from all over the world, encouraging a new kind of conversation with creative communities, citizens and city authorities. He is also the author and producer of “A Guide for Creating a Playable City.”

www.theurbanconga.com
Instagram: @theurbanconga  / @playablecityguide
Twitter: @theurbanconga / @cityplayable

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