Playing with the future. Time / space inversions in metaspace

In Space Time Play (2007) von Borries, Walz and Böttger advocate the potential of gamespaces to not only create new notions of the city, but to permanently change their future composition. They speculate on how “the ludic conquest of real and imagined gamespace [can] become an instrument for the design of space-time” (von Borries, Walz and Böttger, 2007, p.13). This comes at a moment when new forms of urbanism are said to be abolishing temporal narratives of progress and shifting the spatial distribution of power from the global north to the south (see for example, Zeiderman’s (2008) paper Cities of the future? Megacities and the space/time of urban modernity). How can this future inversion of time and space be explored and contested through play?

Through the design of 3×4, its methods of connection and representation, the layering of London over New Delhi provided comment on the domination of the global north and rising of the global south. And yet, the co-creation of built and imagined landscapes offered opportunity to redefine collective futures, a critical visual commentary on living spaces, racial segregation, informality, underground culture and contemplative fantasies. Occupying a part-demolished building via 3×4, took the matters of informalising architecture, contested space and merciless destruction to a global audience. Not just imaginings, 3×4 also morphed into a playground of spontaneous and undirected play. Children, for whom the street and the objects it contain form a recreational landscape, shifted their space of play to this metaspace. Using their bodies as an interface, they even shared a digital chair – emblematic perhaps, of this approaching inversion and shared digital future. ‘Playing the city’ it seems, can bring built and imagined spaces closer together, creating new typologies of architectural space that shape lived experience in novel ways.

Claire McAndrew