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Games Night

Produced by Vibrant Places for the Brisbane City Council, Games Night brings locals into King George Square for some good old-fashioned game-playing. Director Amy Grey talks about the project to Landscape Architecture Australia, for its Connecting People and Place edition.

Landscape Architecture Australia: Tell us about Games Night.

Amy Grey, founder of Vibrant Places.

Amy Grey, founder of Vibrant Places.

Amy Grey: Games Night is an award-winning project based at King George Square, Brisbane, that involves the public participating in giant and normal-sized board games. It is produced by Vibrant Places for the Brisbane City Council. Once a month Games Night brings a lively atmosphere to the square and keeps it occupied late at night. It aims to encourage interactions between people of different generations, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.

LAA: Why did you get involved in this type of work/project?

AG: I was interested in undertaking an urban activation project to explore how people interact with public space. I saw King George Square as an urban stage for Brisbane city – it is at the crossroads of different districts and attracts a range of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, cultures and generations. In my experience these different groups aren’t given many options to interact in society, so I wanted to create a catalyst for these interactions.

LAA: Can you summarize your team’s engagement process and your role in this project?

AG: This project was created from a lifetime of observations about life in Australian cities. I had seen that most people only interact with people of similar backgrounds, which can create negative stereotypes and anger between groups.

The spark of inspiration for Games Night came from playing board games with my grandma and seeing the exchange between two generations. When you are playing a board game your age, wealth and culture don’t matter. I am passionate about public spaces and encouraging people to use them. Board games seemed the best way to bring different people together and the giant games encourage everyone to interact.

A giant game of chinese checkers gets underway. A giant mahjong game can be seen in the background.

A giant game of chinese checkers gets underway. A giant mahjong game can be seen in the background.

Image: Dylan Evans

LAA: Has there been an influential person who was key to implementing the process?

AG: A collaborator on a few projects with me, Yen Trinh, was the first person to hear my idea. It’s often difficult to take an idea to someone and have the confidence to listen to what they think. Yen had some great suggestions and ideas about whom I should speak to at the local council to bring the idea to life.

The first stage in making bold ideas happen is to tell someone, and then keep telling people until someone gives you guidance. Yen, Brooke, Sonia and myself formed the U.R{BNE} Collective, which allows us to be those people to hear great urban activation ideas, and to assist in making them happen.

LAA: How has this project/initiative created positive change?

AG: The project has never lost sight of its goal to create positive interactions between people of different generations, backgrounds and cultures. Once a month for the past three years the project has achieved this. And as the event changes and evolves we will make sure this goal stays front and centre.

There are so many fantastic moments the supervisors and myself have observed at Games Night. We have seen homeless people playing chess with lawyers, tourists visiting especially for Games Night, people being taught English while playing the giant chess game, and more.

LAA: What is the greatest lesson you have learnt from this project?

AG: I have learnt to dream big and share my ideas with others.

Vibrant Places activates public space through interactivity.

Source

Practice

Published online: 1 May 2016
Words: Amy Grey
Images: Dylan Evans, Yan Chen

Issue

Landscape Architecture Australia, August 2013

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