In general, we don’t perceive January as the most exciting month of the year. Even worse: the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year, they say. However, instead of of being influenced by something that was originally conceived as a PR stunt, we can turn this concept around by doing fun activities, going outside (even though it’s cold) and getting together with friends and family. Why lose the coziness of December?
Tooltest Day #2
This is exactly the idea from which Tooltest Day #2 emerged. This initiative is the second edition of Placemaking Europe’s ‘Tooltest Day’ initiative, in which we discovered the possibilities of light as a placemaking tool. During the weekend before Blue Monday (January 17-20), the Tooltesting working group lit up several streets in Europe to see what these possibilities are. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the importance of artificial light in public space and promote light design as a tool for placemaking and tactical urbanism.
The Rotterdam interpretation of this theme ‘Light Up Your Street’ was organizing something very fun, cosy and a little bit rebellious. During the evening of January the 17th we went on a Playwalk, facilitated by Lily Higgins and Ioana Lupascu. Playwalk is a play-based walk for adults interested in urban games, playful interventions, performative “happenings”, and forming a play-community in Rotterdam. For this month's Playwalk they collaborated with STIPO and added the theme of light in urban space. The Playwalk is aimed at changing the way we interact with and move through urban space.
The Playwalk started at STIPO’s office at Kino with a group of 30 interested young people. After Lily and Ioana explained the program of the evening we decorated ourselves with old Christmas lights and had a chat. The Playwalk led us through the Old West district of Rotterdam. During our first steps we counted all the light sources we saw, which made us aware of the amount of light during the evening. Nevertheless we came across several spots that were particularly dark, such as a basketball court and a playground on top of a parking lot. At those different sites we played games in which we explored the space by light themed games. We played tag, ‘camera click’, ‘exploding snake’, and ‘connect the laser’. Personally, I liked exploding snake the best, in which we formed a line of people, imitating the walk of the front person and ‘exploding’ to a lit spot whenever we heard a ringing bell. The game sounds as weird as it was, but we certainly had a lot of fun. I can tell passersby where impressed by us as well. Our ‘snake’ must have looked very colorful and bright. During the second part of the walk the group created their own light installations at a dark playground, which sparked our own creativity.
The value of this intervention is multisided. In the first place we explored the Old West neighborhood of Rotterdam in a new way. In a very playful way we saw what light can do with the urban environment and how we, as a colorful and bright group, affect the city life as well. Regarding the European Tooltest Day, Rotterdam contributed with a very accessible, community driven event, rather than a design driven intervention with lighting in urban space. Additionally, the value of this event is getting people out on the streets to play and interact with their urban environment. Play is very important and we often tend to let go of our inner child. This Playwalk is therefore a good opportunity to have a laugh and just play. Another important value for STIPO is the discovery of this interesting event and getting to know a new community. This collaboration between Playwalk and Placemakers is a very interesting one and can lead to new inspiration and opportunities.
I would like to thank Renee Rooijmans (STIPO), Lily Higgins and Ioana Lupascu (Playwalk) for organizing the second edition of Tooltest Day #2 in Rotterdam.
Sanne van Drenth