Saturday, 11 December 2010

Bringing, Sharing and having a Good Time

Thanks to all the people who came to share their skills and talents last Wednesday night in CAI. Everyone seemed to have a good time, even if they didn’t come away with exactly what they were looking for!

In the lead up to the event, what struck me was the amount of people who claimed not to have any skills to offer. It’s easy to forget that not everyone can do the things that you can do and that something you take for granted can be valuable to other people. So to help jog people’s memories of what their skills were we put up a number of headings that skills could be categorised under. They were Green Fingers, Computery Things, Health & Happiness, In the Kitchen, Art & Crafty Stuff, The Business World, DIY Dilemmas, The Life of the Mind and Miscellaneous. We also put up a list of other potential skills for people to take inspiration from.

We asked people to consider 3 basic guidelines for sharing and bartering:
-The unit of exchange is one hour
-Give freely – it’s better if you offer something you enjoy doing
-Skill sharing is based on trust and common sense – so keep fairness in mind.

People were then invited to spend the first hour putting up everything they had to offer and everything they wanted under the various categories. Then the next hour was for finding the people who were offering something you wanted and bargaining with them for it.

These were some of the skills offered...
Digging and weeding
Basic blogging
CV revamping
Intermediate knitting
Curry lessons
Basic hoola-hooping
Intro to sustainability
Wardrobe weeding
Bike maintenance

And some of the skills wanted...
Body popping
Bouzouki classes
Astronomy with binoculars
Basic Welsh
Positive thinking
How to screenprint
Mushroom foraging
Basic website design
Biological pest control

Bartering was good fun; I found myself in a few humorously tense ‘lay your cards on the table’ situations in order to get what I wanted, having to stand there and list every skill I could think of until the person I was bargaining with consented to do a swap.

A couple of people who weren’t able to come have asked if the skills swap can go on online. It would be interesting to figure out a way of doing this, however there are already a lot of skill swap and local exchange trading systems websites dedicated to this. ( Freeconomy , Cardiff Taffs) The charm of Bring and Share for me was being able to speak to people face to face, get to know new people and have a laugh. However I think we are going to have a look at putting the skills offered online for other people to do swaps for some time in the near future.

Actually I’m finding the barter mentality hard to kick – today on Twitter I spotted an opportunity and negotiated a ukulele lesson in exchange for basic sewing. Might be skill swapping for Christmas presents this year ...

If anyone would like to offer any feedback about Bring and Share or comments about skill sharing in general it would be good to hear from you...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Developments for the market

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Bring and share is all about creating a place where people with a skill to offer can hook up with people with a skill in need and vice versa. It could be anything that interests you, from juggling to video production to art appreciation. Have a look at our ideas if you're not sure... Meanwhile, here are a few tips on making it work for everyone.

1. The basic unit of exchange is one hour, of your time or someone else's.
2. Give freely – it works best if you offer something you really enjoy doing.
3. Bring and share is based on trust and common sense – so please keep fairness in mind.

Need a bit more detail? Just ask your welcome host...


The areas we are looking at so far:

- computery things
I need to learn how to use Word. How do I get started on Twitter and Facebook? I can teach people about (legal!) music sharing.I'm offering word-processing skills training.

- in the kitchen
examples: Can someone help me make perfect cakes? I'd love to learn about Indian cooking. I know how to make flawless souffles. My speciality is French cuisine.

- green fingers
examples: Anyone know how/where I can keep bees? I'd really love to grow my own vegetables. I'd like to share my appreciation of permaculture. I know exactly where all the best blackberries/apples/sloe berries/nut trees are.

- health and happiness
examples: I need to find better ways of chilling out. Can anyone help me manage my time better? I'd like to teach yoga classes. Climbing is the best thing ever – I want to pass on the passion.

- DIY dilemmas
examples: Can anyone help me put up a shed? I'm a whizz with the power tools.

- arts and crafty stuff
examples: I'd like to start going to Cardiff's museum and art galleries. Film has always fascinated me. I'd love to share my knowledge with others.

- the business world
examples: How can I turn my hobby into a solid business idea? I can give people top tips on business success.

Quick thank you to Clare for the words, Laura for the words and everyone else for contributing to the testing out last week.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A year in the life

Always good to show the developments of the group.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Skills Swap and Barter Market

The Travelling Pantry
Last Wednesday a couple of ARK regulars, including me, attended the Travelling Pantry, a project development workshop run by Tessy Britton, developed as part of the Social Spaces project, and hosted in Cardiff by RSA Cymru. Rather than looking at what a community's problems are and then trying to solve them, Tessy's approach to developing community projects is about working out what assets and resources a community has and then developing projects based on these assets. These asset-based projects can then help to address the problems that the community are experiencing by bringing people together, which is the first big step to community problem-solving.

To pass on what we had discovered I gave a presentation (see the slideshow below) to people who came to thinkARK on Wednesday night, about the asset-based projects that Tessy had mentioned. One of them was Trade School, a Brooklyn-based initiative in which people offered to teach classes to students who bartered with teachers for class time. Classes taught included Foundations in Ghost Hunting, Portrait Photography and Making Websites with WordPress.

thinkARK Skills Swap Beta
Inspired by the example of Trade School, on Wedensday the 8th of December thinkARK Wednesday Club are going to be running a prototype 'Skills Swap and Barter Market' in CAI. So if there is a skill you want to learn or a service that you need come along and offer your skills and abilities in exchange. If you think there is a class you can teach, find some interested students and barter for your knowledge. If there is something to need doing, swap it for something you can do in return.

This will be a 'test' to find out what works and what doesn't, but should be a lot of fun.

Also, thanks to Kevin Hong of CS Studio for inviting us to the Travelling Pantry workshop.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Story telling/animation

Animation but feels like a brilliant way of doing some kind of storytelling or experience?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

ARK Observations


We have been thinking a bit more about the idea of how to create new projects for the future you can see the posts here and here. The thoughts are two fold to bring other people to into projects that may not have visited one of our Wednesday clubs but also to keep a record of the project and how it develops. A fear we have had is that 'project' and 'idea'may already be a bit too advanced. So we are thinking about an observations section to the website. Here you will be able as the name suggests to post observations the above diagram should explain it a bit better.

From the observations on the site it would then be up to people to rate them in terms of interest and comment on the observation. If it gains a lot of comments and conversations then we believe this will naturally evolve into some kind of response. So for example the observations on the above diagram may lead to a project that looks into new forms of how we throw things away, or how to encourage people to actively put rubbish in the 'bin'. Perhaps it maybe even to challenge the concept of what is a bin. After a few chats with people I think we are going to try this out for a while and see where it goes. At first we think the observations will be similar to twitter tweets. short and fun then hopefully as it develops more and more people will get involved.

As with most design it will have to be prototyped and tested but we are looking to create a genuine space where divergent thinking is encouraged which can then lead to convergent developments.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Choice is good???

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sustainability, Climate Change, the Arts and Creativity

On the 28th of October Cynnal Cymru/Sustain Wales held an event in Chapter Arts Centre about sustainability and the arts. It asked how can arts practice be more sustainable and also what role the arts can play in promoting sustainability and highlighting climate change.

The arts act as a spark which can make things happen in society, bringing issues to the public attention, encouraging people to form their own opinions, changing attitudes. Examples: Punk Rock, Picasso’s Guernica, the First World War poets. So how can the arts, and the creative industries, bring climate change and the need for sustainable practice to people’s attention and provoke the fundamental change in attitudes that is needed?

Unfortunately this message is not one that people find very engaging or take very seriously. The public perception of tackling climate change seems to be all about not doing things and then feeling guilty when you do them. People need to be able to relate to climate change and sustainability as something that involves them and the things they care about. That is what makes it understandable and real.

How can the arts and the creative industries help to bring about a change in attitudes?

What stories should the arts be telling that will spark people's imaginations and help them to relate to these issues?

How can we ignite a feeling of collective purpose in our society so that people are willing to make fundamental changes in the cause of a better future?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Learning by experience

Following on from the last post I have been thinking about we discussed last night regarding the project pitch idea for the new website and how we tap into what we have learnt so far. I've tried to sum up the initial stage in its most simple form in the diagram below:

Essentially initial idea process for ARKADE worked a bit like this:

  1. Laura had an idea
  2. We all liked the idea
  3. We decided to invite other people to 'get involved' and pitch further ideas
  4. Everyone discussed and voted on their favourite ideas
  5. We asked everyone to sign up and volunteer time or resources
  6. We set a date
  7. We had lots of meetings with lots of different people to evolve the idea and problem solve as we went along

OK so it wasn't quite that straight forward but what was apparent that if its a good idea with integrity people want to get involved. What was amazing was the number of people turning up every week - voting with their feet if you like and the amount of time and resources people gave. So I guess I feel the website should have a similar process, something informal, inspirational and above all else fun!

Now the serious we have a democratic and organic process and we want to evolve it to create opportunities for other people to pitch projects. ARK may potentially invest money and will have a staked interest so how do we manage this pitching process without shutting down creativity? What processes and criteria do we need to put in place?

If anyone has any examples of similar projects we can learn from please let us know.

Developments within thinkARK and ARK LAB

ways forward

After celebrating our first birthday and in the end zone of our first Professional project we have been looking into how we can develop the group and how we can bring new people with great projects to ARK. A few months ago there was a post about how ARK was envisaged working you can see that article here.

Even in this short time this has been changing and evolving. For us though because of the nature of the group and how it works it was always going to happen. So last night we had a discussion about how we could work in the future and also how this would tie in with a new website. The drawings above and below try to express some of the items we discussed. But in basic terms we have divided the company up into ARK LAB which effectively uses social design within organisations and companies. these projects are hoped to help the thinkARK group with development capital for experimental projects that would not be possible without help from the thinkARK as a group and potentially through a bit of financial support.

We have been looking at a number of schemes that have a similar feel to what we are trying to get to:

ways forward

We would really love to hear what everyone else thinks about the idea and what they would want from such a thing. You can see the website in it's current state here (ARK LAB) and the thinkARK section here

To recap on what was thought during the chat:

- We should look at the projects we have already done to look at process
- We need to be clear what we are offering
- We want people to feel like they can develop projects and ideas with us. they don't need to have something finished
- I'll let you decide the rest

Monday, 25 October 2010

The get out @CardiffCycling

Well we managed to get out via out various forms of trailers and trolleys. Took us about five trips and now I am the proud owner of all the items that were onc ein the shop. As you can see there is hardly any space left for me in the flat at the moment. But it is a new challenge to get to the bathroom in the night.


Friday, 22 October 2010

One of the comments about the consultation


We have always tried to make the consultation engaging and interactive. It's always great when it is a bit magical as well. Hopefully through this approach we get to reach a bigger group of people. We have had loads of people coming into the shop but it wasn't until seeing the map last night that we saw exactly how many.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

@CardiffCycling - first day

We have had a really positive response from the first day of consultation at our shop on Queen Street this weekend. Here are some fo the images of before and after:

@CardiffCycling consultation

@CardiffCycling consultation

@CardiffCycling consultation

@CardiffCycling consultation

We still need loads more people to come through the shop and also complete the survey. So come along this Thursday (21st) or Saturday 23rd. the survey can be found on our newly developing website.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cycling extra information

The 'Ely Wheelies' – a cycling club with a difference!
Based in Ely but open to people from across Cardiff, the Ely Wheelies is a cycling club for people who have just learned to cycle or have started cycling again after a long time. Some members of the Ely Wheelies had not cycled since they left school over 40 years ago! The club is open to anyone who wants to try cycling as an easy way to get around and for their health and wellbeing.

Members of the Ely Wheelies will be visiting the Cardiff Cycling empty shop project on Queen Street at 1pm on Thursday the 21st of October to talk about what motivated them to get back on their bikes and their thoughts and experiences of cycling in Cardiff.

So if you are thinking about taking up cycling or want to start cycling again, come and meet the Ely Wheelies and be inspired!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Schedule announced

What do you think about cycling in Cardiff?

Come and tell us!

Cardiff Council, in association with ARK LAB are asking for your feedback on Cardiff Council's Draft Cycling Network Strategy. This strategy aims to develop and expand the cycling network within Cardiff and encourage more people to choose cycling more often.

On 16th of October we will be taking over 107 Queen Street (opposite the Capitol Shopping Centre) and we would like to invite you to come and give your opinion.

If you can't make it - don't worry you can still join in! We will be running consultations on Thursday 21st and Saturday 23rd October at the same venue. In addition we will launching an online survey later on in the week which we will keep you up to date with.

We will also be running a variety of fun and useful events, here's the programme so far:

• Saturday 16th October - 10am-5pm
11am -12pm & 3pm - 4pm - drop-in cycle accessories craft workshop suitable for supervised children and adults

• Thursday 21st October – 10am – 7pm
11am -12pm & 3pm - 4pm drop-in cycle accessories craft workshop suitable for supervised children and adults
1pm - 2pm Lunchtime Event - talks from invited guests and groups

• Saturday 23rd October - 10am-5pm
11am -12pm drop-in cycle accessories craft workshop suitable for supervised children and adults
12pm - 1pm - Lunchtime Event - talks from invited guests and groups
1pm -4pm 'Dr. Bike' - bring your bike in and Cycle Training Wales mechanics will diagnose the problem & will take you through basic bike
maintenance demonstrations

Keep your eye out for regular updates on the full programme on our facebook page
and on Twitter @Cardiffcycling

Please pass this information on to anyone who you think might be interested.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Cardiff Cycling - What do you think?

ARK in the PARK

As we have commented on recently we have been asked by Cardiff Council to do some consultation on the Cardiff Council’s Draft Cycling Network Strategy. The strategy aims to develop and expand the cycling network within Cardiff and encourage more people to choose cycling more often. On the 16th, 21st and 23rd of October we will be taking over 107 Queen Street (opposite the Capitol Shopping centre) from 10am to 5pm, and until 7pm on Thursday 21st, and will be asking you to come and give your opinion in a rather unusual way…….

On these days we will also be running a variety of fun and useful events including ‘make your own’ bike accessories and bike maintenance workshops. If you can’t make it – don’t worry you can still join in! As we have an online survey to fill in so you can find out more about the Draft Cycling Network Strategy and give your feedback.

Keep your eye out for regular updates on the full programme on our blog facebook page and on our new twitter account @CardiffCycling

Monday, 4 October 2010

ARK in the PARK - games day

Well the weather was kind and people turned up, what else can you ask for? Our first birthday and our first games festival was a great day with the five hours going so quickly.

ARK in the PARK

ARK in the PARK

Cardiff Design Festival - 2010

cardiff design festival 2010

Friday just gone saw the launch on the Cardiff Design Festival. We are really happy to be shortlisted with our ARKADE empty shop project. The announcement of winners is at the end of the festival so fingers crossed, although for us as such a young company it's great just to be recognised for doing design work in a slightly different way.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mini Games Festival - Schedule


A provisional timeframe for the games and a bit of background info, I have copied it all below as well so it is easier to see, looking forward to seeing you on the day.

Human Bingo
Players scramble to snap pictures of each other in this fast-paced game of photo tag.
Times: 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm
Need to bring: Digital Camera, or mobile phone with camera facility
Designer: Krzysiek “Semp” Bielecki

Chase a BULL through city streets or a large park, desperately trying to tie dozens of helium balloons to its horns.
Times: 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm
Need to bring: Yourself
Designers: Minkette, Alex Fleetwood, Holly Gramazio, Tassos Stevens

Holla Lulu
Call out stuff, find people who are calling out the same stuff, and run around a lot.
Times: 12:00pm, 1:30pm, 3:30pm
Need to bring: Yourself
Designers: Duncan Speakman and Simon Johnson

Search and Replace
Grab a set of lettered tiles and head out into the city, to twist the road-signs and headlines to your will.
Times: 11:00am ,12:30pm, 2:00pm, 3:30pm
Need to bring: Digital Camera, or mobile phone with camera facility
Designers: Kevan Davis

Congestion Zone
You are a vehicle stuck inside the congestion zone. You must navigate your way through the zone’s poorly conceived one-way system, being careful to observe the rules of the Highway Code.
Times: Drop in anytime
Need to bring: Yourself
Designer: Simon Katan

Cat and Mouse
Chase game of Cat and Mouse.
Times: 12:30pm, 2:30pm
Need to bring: Yourself
Designer: Brent Michael Drew Morgan

A selection of games to warm those brain cells.
Times: 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm
Need to bring: Yourself
Designer: Alison John

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Many of us are involved in the arts

It reminds me a bit of Beavis and Butthead, but I like the idea of it highlighting the economic impact it has on our economy.

Things to bring on the day - ARK in the PARK

games testing

We have had a few queries about what we should and shouldn't bring during the day:

In general we will supply all the things you need for the event but for some games (Human Bingo, Search and Replace) you need a digital camera or a mobile phone with a camera facility, to play the game.

As well as this in terms of clothing and other stuff:
It is best to wear something comfy and to wear shoes that you can run in easily. Obviously if it is looking like rain you might need to bring a mac and finally pack light, don't bring your whole wardrobe as it is unlikely we will have somewhere put it.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Benevolent Society for the Care of White Elephants

A film about the The Benevolent Society for the Care of White Elephants, one of the performance/art pieces that took place during this summers ARK LAB empty shop project.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Updated leaflet

games festival

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Games announced for the 2nd October

After last weekends games testing we have been busy gathering feedback. We are happy to confirm the first few games that will take place on the 2nd October.

Game one - Human Bingo
"Collect your numbers from each other moving through the city, full house wins."
Type of game: chasing and running
Number of players: 20-50
Game Duration: 30mins

Game two - Stag Hunt
"You are a group of hunters searching for the illusive Cardiff Stag from mythical scripture, your mission is to tag the stag as many times as possible."
Type of game: sneaking and hunting
Number of players: 20-50
Game Duration: 30mins

Game three - Congestion Zone
Play as teams or as an individual, your chance to experience the road rage world of the motorist.
Type of game: logic
Number of players: 5
Game Duration: 5mins

Game four - Search and Replace
A mixture of Scrabble and storytelling. Work together to create incredible stories from the City of Cardiff.
Type of game: storytelling and treasure hunt
Number of players: 20-50
Game Duration: 20mins

Game five - Holla Lulu
Find your own kind through this city wide communication game. Using only your call sign you search the streets trying to find the rest of your kind. Once you have found them it is up to you to rush to the finishing line.
Type of game: running and shouting
Number of players: 15-40
Game Duration: approx 45mins

As well as these games there will also be a number of board games and other social games allowing for people to come and have a great time while waiting for their game to start. Registration for the games will be from 11am on the saturday but if you want to guarantee your place please email us at info[at]

We hope you can come an join us on the day. HQ will be in Bute Park near the standing stones (Millenium Stadium entrance). We have also made many of these games weather proof so not excuses.

Hope to see you there.


Monday, 6 September 2010

So why do you come to thinkARK?

We have been asked by the guys at Cardiff Arts Institute to write a small article about what we have been up to over the last year or so. In particular the Empty Shop project and our up and coming project the mini games festival which should be with us this October. So to everyone who has been to thinkark we want to know what brought you to visit?

Why you stayed and even if you didn't come back why not? any help with developing our wednesday club and making it more inclusive would be fantastic to hear about. Thanks again. If anyone would like to help out please comment below. The deadline is pretty soon i.e. next week so anything you can do would be greatly appreciated.

ARK in the PARK testing

A selection of pictures from the weekend of testing. Thanks to everyone who helped out.

games testing

games testing



games testing

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Cycling in and around Cardiff information - Consultation


Local Transport Projects Ltd and Cardiff design collective ARK LAB have been asked by Cardiff Council to help with some work to improve the cycling network and facilities in Cardiff. Our first point of call began with a working group of people in Cardiff, who have a keen interest in cycling, these included council members, cycling organisations, cycle training providers and other stakeholders such as Sustrans, CTC, Peddle Power, the Bike Shed and the Cardiff Cycling Campaign group. We listened to these people as a representative group of "experienced" and "long-standing" cyclist in the area. We have kept all of their feedback ready for analysis at a later date and have now moved on to our next phase of research.

This phase is designed to generate the ideas and the opinions of the new to cycling, the lapsed cyclist and the currently non-cyclists of Cardiff. In order to generate as much response as we can we have started by encouraging people of all cycling ability, from non-cyclists to 40-year served cyclist, to take part in a survey giving their views on cycling in the city. There will be plenty of other fantastic community engagement and feedback opportunities designed by ARK LAB who will be looking to find out why certain groups are not cycling in Cardiff and if there are things that can be done to encourage these groups to start. This maybe physical changes to road systems or different types of training requirements for people who have a lack of confidence etc. As well as this they will then be looking to consult with these groups to ask their opinion of the draft proposal that Local Transport Projects Ltd will produce in around a month's time.

The survey itself is only one aspect of the consultation and we are hoping that people will feedback in other ways, like this article for example. If you have any further questions please contact Jo Sachs-Eldridge Cycling Officer for Cardiff Council who will be happy to help. JSachsEldridge[at]

Or alternatively you can contact us on info[at]

Mini Games Festival - UPDATE

In our rush to get the Mini Games Festival out to the masses we realised that the information is not as descriptive as is could be. Or perhaps the most informative. So we felt we should add a bit more meat to the bone.

The festival will be once again FREE of charge like all of our public projects. We will be hosting a number of games that will require running, sneaking, cunning and logic. The games will be city wide and are suitable to 18+, we hope if successful that we will do more in the future that will allow for a broader age range however due to current insurance and other issues we can't afford to step up their yet.

As well as the big games we are hoping to have a few big board games that will be located in the Park near our HQ. These will be for all of the people who fancy hanging around chatting and socialising while waiting for their game to start. We are hoping that there will be loads of people who come on the 2nd October, so there maybe more than one chance to play the same game. However we will only know that on the day.

Hope this has clarified the festival a bit more however if you still have and questions drop us an email or comment below. Thanks again and look forward to seeing you all then.

P.S. If you want to help out or have any games you would like to try out during the festival please let us know.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

thinkARK - mini games festival announced

ark in the park

We have finally announced our 1st birthday party arrangements. This year once again we will be holding an event during the Cardiff Design Festival, this year we are going to be producing a mini games festival, from paper, scissor, stone through to city wide treasure hunts. email us for further information info[at]

We also have a new twitter feed @arkinthepark and we will be updating the website with news. Also if you want to help out let us know. We will be doing some game testing on the 4th September if your interested also get in touch.

Finally thank you to Andrew Hong for the illustration we love it.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Cycling scheme london

24 hours of the London Cycle Hire Scheme from James Cheshire on Vimeo.

I came across this from Howies blog. It is a set of screen shots of the newly introduced cycle scheme in London notice how the bikes leave the suburbs in the morning and move to the centre and then back again at night. I love this type of video. Chaotic beauty.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Spectrum Results night

spectrum evening

Last week saw the end of Spectrum the game we had set up as a test for future games. This wednesday was results night, Carwyn from Hoffi won with a staggering 95 points. There were a number of things that would have probably been done a bit differently maybe length of time the game was and their comments about making it less complicated. I think the thing we noticed mostly was that you need to commit alot of time to make it happen for the players to get the best out of it. We will be looking at other games over the next few weeks ready of a mini festival in October so if you are interested in getting involved please let us know.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Story telling basic themes

I came across this little article about storytelling and basic good and ill fortunes as stories develop. This is particularly interesting as from the very beginning of us meeting and working on projects we have always come again and again to story telling and it's importance in explaining issues to people.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Conspiracy for Good - event

Last weekend was the final instalment of the pilot of Conspiracy for Good. Made by a team including NOKIA and Heroes creator Tim Kring. Conspiracy for Good was a four episode pervasive game set in the the city of London. The basic story being by joining together we could fight a huge corporation (Blackwell Briggs) which has been guilty of taking advantage of local people from far off countries through their drilling and mining activities.

The forth episode was one of infiltrating the corporation and getting to the mole to give them vital information to bring the corporation down. So what did we think? well firstly the scale of this game was huge and the depth of the story impressive to say the least. As a group who came into the game in the fourth episode we were behind from the beginning and found it hard to get into the game as we would like. After speaking to other people who had been to every episode and those who had maybe come to one or two previously it was reassuring to hear they felt the same. With many saying they had preferred the first two episodes. But this is what I love about games. They are not stationary and they are there to be developed and improved over time. there is a bit more information about the game here and you can see Tim Kring below talking about the game.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Dead Spaces and In-between Architecture

Last week whilst walking round London I was pleasantly surprised by this simplicity of this beautifully lit tunnel. Firstly I noticed the internal architecture of the tunnel and somehow the gently changing coloured lights made the tunnel feel safer and accessible. It is also a great example of how litter free spaces make public spaces more desirable to walk though.

On my travels I also visited the amazing 'Architects build small spaces' exhibition at the V&A. I particularly liked the In-between Architecture dwelling by Studio Mumbai Architects. An representation of one of the many 'un-authorised' dwellings built in Mumbai between buildings in unused spaces. This was an extraordinary use of an dead space to create a slim but functional home for 6 people! It felt like a childs play house simply because of the scale and maze like quality of the twisting corridors and the tiny fort like windows.

Both spaces got me thinking on how differently design can be used to make a dead spaces more functional - either through a practical need i.e. somewhere to live or an considered aesthetic approach to make someone more accessible. Does anyone have any more interesting examples?

A subject close to our hearts

The people at IDEO have just launched their open IDEO have a look at the video to see how they hope it will work.

Introduction to OpenIDEO / from IDEO on Vimeo.

Monday, 19 July 2010

IGLAB - workshop

Another weekend another gaming experience. This time we managed to get to IGLAB's games workshop. We went to Bristol to take part in making some games. The workshop started at 10am and then went on until around 5ish. A long day but it flew by and I would recommend the workshop to anyone wanting to get into gaming or even those who have loads of experience to check the workshops out.

We started the day with a game of Sneaks and Blaggers. We used slightly different rules to the original game but it was a really engrossing game and one of those perfect balances of random and familiar.

iglab weekend

After this first game we then went on to start designing our own games. There was only a small number of us. so we split up into two groups and both started to create a game. The first one was ours and was like a physical board game. It was pretty dull and not the best but I think there were some interesting ideas that could be developed in the future. We then tried the other groups game which was alot more physical. after lunch we discussed the games and also designed some new games.

Finally we had a pint to end the day. A great day and another massive leap in our learning about gaming.

iglab weekend

iglab weekend

Simon working through the theory of gaming. Very insightful and easy to understand. Got me thinking about alot of recent work we have been going through in ARK.

iglab weekend

Thursday, 15 July 2010

What is gaming design?

Following our weekly wednesday club meeting last night on the theme of pervasive gaming and how ARK could use games to influence human behaviour I thought I should do some research as its an area I know very little about. So to kick things off here is a few things I have found so far:

Design with Intent - a great little article here on learning from game design

Playful - Described as 'a day of cross disciplinary frolicking'

Please post any other links below of other projects or games you have heard about and if any gamers out there would like to get involved in the project please get in contact.

A Weekend of Play - Hide & Seek

I have always loved games ever since I was little and I think to some degree we all do. There is something that draws us to 'play' that is mysteriously undefinable - the thrill and excitement of being part of something that has it's own set of rules and boundaries, a shared knowledge and experience that draws players together coupled with the joyful element of risk. You can win all or lose all in a multitude of board games or graze knees and hands on tarmac playgrounds and yet despite the risks we all continue to play on.


And play on we did at Hide & Seek's Weekender held at the National Theatre on London's South Bank. Since 2007 Hide & Seek have been enticing people of all ages (but mainly adults) with their annual weekender event of social games and playful experiences where you can expect 'paranoia, glee, new connections and fun'. Armed with our programme of events for Saturday we headed for the booking desk and put our names down for a mixture of games (which we'd eagerly chosen the night before over a magnum ice cream) Unfortunately we could only book two main games for the day to allow fair capacity throughout the day but there were many other 'drop in' games you could take part in or be a wiley spectator.

Here are two of my highlights from the day:

International Playtime; 45 minutes of fun run around was at this point I realised that I was wearing the most inappropriate footwear for the day but to my delight I was not the only one! This game slot was quite an interesting one for me as most of the games were ones I have played or facilitated within a theatrical context so I was completely in my comfort zone but what made it fun and interesting for me was watching other people's reactions and interactions with the game and the other participants. Within 45mins a group of complete strangers are immediately connected in a way that would only ever happen through play and not real life.

Time Trial Badge

Time Trails - The second game we played was one of my favourites of the day. The game required participants to download an app on the iphone called Place Whispers which plotted various whispers around the South Bank. Basically a hi-tec treasure hunt with a wonderful twist. In addition we had a paper map that plotted the original route of the Festival of Britain. I absolutely loved this game - I've been to the South Bank quite a few times and have always stuck to the main path and never really ventured beyond but this game took us to some beautiful hidden places which felt like we had suddenly stepped back in time.


At the beginning of the day I really didn't know what to expect, in some ways I was expecting something new but realised fundamentally all games are seeded from a handful of what I would describe as traditional games that are made different by space, time, rules and ultimately the participants. I think games and play are so important and have an eternally vital role, they are uniquely social, they bring people together often making new and surprising connections. I really enjoyed the Hide & Seek experience and I think the ethos of the weekend is shared by Ark Lab. So let's see if we can play!

And at the end of a very long, hot but fun day there was still a little time to shop......... ;-)

Divine Shoes

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Hide & Seek - weekender 2010


This weekend was hot and rushed, but I had a fascinating day at Hide & Seek's weekender. I believe this is the fourth year in a row that they have held the event and although the output is different, the idea of bringing a diverse group of people together to create something is very in keeping with ThinkARK and ARK LAB. In many ways ThinkARK is The Sandpit and ARK LAB is Hide & Seek. As we work more and more through projects I think for me that the way ARK LAB is structured is very similar to a Theatre type set up. With the theatre putting on productions that are helped through involving a wide range of people that work to put on an event.

Beyond these similarities we visited the event to look at what is going on in the world of gaming in the UK at the moment. There was a lot of different games available on saturday, so we were excited to get onto as many as possible. I guess that was the only disappointment of the day that we were informed we could only book two games during the day. Yet others seem to be able to book more?

Beyond this however there were a number of smaller games that you could drop into at any time so we still had loads to do. So starting off with 'International playtime' by The Fun Fed, which was a collection of various type clown and acting games. They were fun and I managed to get quite sweaty running around in the mid day sun (what's that quote about sun and englishmen???). Next I wanted a more 'designed' game if you like so we got our map for the 'Time*Trials' By Michael Dales and Sophie Sampson. We were encouraged to download an App called placewhisper for our iPhone and go on a fact finding mission around London. The more you explore the more places you find and the more points you get.

Suffering in the heat try to chase virtual information in the Time*Trials game.

I thought this was a really interesting way of looking at a city and places I would not have gone to before were revealed. We were happy to learn we even earned a sticker due to us scoring a staggering 180 points. Next off the bat was The Zemblan Ambassador Will Make a Brief Statement By Ben Henley which was a bit like a mixture of Mock the Week and call my bluff. Very enjoyable 3o minutes.

So to sum up, great day, very hot, think we could definitely use gaming techniques within ARK to bring new audiences and break down barriers through play.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Very Rough First edit of the weekend film

Hopefully this will give you some idea of what went on during the ARKADE empty shop at Castle Arcade in Cardiff, last weekend. It's pretty rough edit but I wanted to get something out to see what people thought about it. In particular does it convey what happened and the vibrancy of the three days?

Also you can see some fantastic shots taken by Jorge below. Really nice slideshow of the events that went on.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

itv Wales coverage

Some new coverage of the arcades and a bit about the project. We just hope that it encourages people to come and visit the great shops but more importantly the great people who make up the arcades.

FINAL DAY - Mini film festival

ARKADE Cinema schedule

It's our final day but we are going to have a great day starting from 1pm you can see what's going on from the schedule above come along to watch some great films.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Guardian Cardiff coverage

We have had some great responses on our first day today the workshop's seemed to go well and we got some great support from Guardian Cardiff where you can see this report and the Echo had a double page article about the Arcades and also a bit about our empty shop project. We feel that all of this press is fantastic not for us (although nice) but more for the Arcade's which will hopefully setup for a more vibrant future.

We have also setup a blog following up the business clinic for the members of the arcades which we hope will be allow them to start a number of collaborative project's together in the future. The first workshop of the day surrounding the community groups also seemed to go down well, we will have to work on this a lot more to see what will happen for the future.

We should be uploading some video and pictures later in the week (once the dust settles).

Finally I just found this we got an amazing piece by Ed Walker which you can find here

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Preparation Pictures

Over the last few days we have been at the shop at Laura's studio in the street, walking the dog and generally working until we drop a quick selection of images summing it all up.

Empty Shop preperations

Empty Shop preperations

Empty Shop preperations

Empty Shop preperations

Empty Shop preperations

Empty Shop preperations

Monday, 28 June 2010


Updated schedule including the Friday lunchtime shoe customisation workshop and hack/flash's Saturday slot. Very exciting!