Re-architect is a game on urban design, play and transformation. A game designed with “big city” aspects in mind like disappearing cultural heritage due to rapid urbanization, diversity of (multi-cultural) interpretations of a city and the ever-changing use and emotion of public space.

Re-architect also investigates how mobile phones, that are location-aware (GPS) and full media and internet devices, can help us interact differently with the city.

Re-architect wants people to playfully experience architectural and cultural landmarks of the city, but also stimulate them to think about the design values behind them and creatively – with the help of photography – have them state their own opinion on how they see the city and what they would possibly like to change.

The rules

0. Prepare: bring your digital camera
1. Team up: create a team of 3
2. Get a phone or map: Either get 7scenes running on a GPS phone or download and print out a map & booklet.
3. Navigate: start navigating from location to location
4. Learn: at each location discuss the available info about the place.
5. Investigate: investigate the location and its surroundings based on the linked design principles. Does this (set of) principle(s) not work for you? Pick another. Check out the booklet for explanations.
7. Photograph: Discuss which principle(s) fit(s) best and take photos that best illustrate this – as a team.
8. Upload: upload your photo directly via 7scenes on your phone or email it (phone or web) to (subject: location, design principle, body: comments)
9. Comment: let us know your thoughts when you took the photos, leave all of your comments on our flickr page and discuss your ideas with other players.


Tips & hints

  • Try to look at the building/structure/place in relation to the surrounding structures and space.  How does this place relate to the neighborhood and immediate environment?
  • Are there unique characteristics found on this route as opposed to other urban areas in Hong Kong?
  • A building/structure/place might be constructed with inorganic materials.  But it could have a life of its own: life breathed into it by the users and the community.  How do they together form an organic microcosm?
  • Observe not only the location/structure itself, but also the contents of the location.  Who are the users or visitors?  How are the interiors configured?  What sorts of activities take place here?  What kinds of goods or services are provided if it’s a commercial space?  There are socio-economic implications for any urban design plan or evolution.

How it all works in more detail

Treasure hunt
A treasure hunt forms the basis for the game, a trail along a series of locations that you discover one location at a time. This trail of locations can either be navigated on a GPS-enabled mobile phone or on a hard-copy map.

Players play in teams of three. This is important to the game because the group dynamic (discussions & decisions) are a vital part of the game-play.

On arriving at a location your GPS position triggers information on the phone about the landmark that you’re currently at. When using a map you check out the booklet for the info on this particular location.

Design Principles
Each location is linked to one or more architectural design principles such as e.g. enclosure, hierarchy or balance. In your team you discuss the principle(s) to see what fits this location best. Does this (set of) principle(s) not work for your team? Pick another. Next the team singles out which parts of this landmark or surroundings best represents (each of) the principle(s) and photographs them. Remember deciding on design principles and which photos to take is a team decision.

If you are using a GPS phone and are running the game application then you can upload photos straight from the application. If you’re using a non-game phone you can email pictures on-the-go to If you’re using a phone or digital camera you can also upload later via email to

Use the subject line to name the design principle your photo represents and the body to add your comments.

When you see interesting locations on your journey feel very free to take photo’s and relate them to  design principles – as long as it’s a group decision.

Tip: make notes on the way so you don’t forget later which photo belonged to which location and what you’re thoughts were.


Your choices at the different locations you have visited have determined how you see your city, from which design perspective you view it. All these different principles add up to your score, and what that means so can later see at the 7scenes project page. At this page players can also see their GPS traces and the photos they uploaded on-the-go.

All other uploaded photo’s can be found on the  Flickr project page. After the game all photos will be geotagged in Flickr to create one large new map.

Comments & opinions

An important part of the game is that the comments and opinions of players (and even of non-players) are added to the game results. That is why we would like not only for players to comment on their own photo’s in Flickr, but also to respond to the comments of others.

To play Re-Architect you can take as much time as needed, but a good 2 hours is often the maximum amount of time players can stay focused.

Of course the web is always a good place to have more discussion, but talking the game over just after it’s been played works well as all experiences are fresh and discussions can easily become lively because are directly ‘confronted’ with their decisions.

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to redesign, make fundamental design changes

Re-architect is a game on urban design, play and transformation. The game takes players on a photographic treasure hunt along the architectural past, present and future of the city. As the game unfolds players are asked to respond to design principles, investigate their surroundings and photograph the city from different architectural perspectives.

Individually players will learn more on how they perceive the city, collectively all players create a new map of the city together.

Re-architect can both be played hi-tech, with GPS-enabled phones triggering game content by player’s positions and lo-fi using a hard-copy map.

Re-architect is also very much a discussion platform asking you to comment on the city’s changes not only from a architect’s perspective but also as a resident or visitor responding to public space. What kind of changes would you make in the city?

What would you re-architect?

Business of Design Week ’08

Re-architect is part of the DEtour program at Business of Design Week ’08 Hong Kong (BoDW). The BoDW is referred to as “one of the most significant annual events on the international design calendar , Asia’s leading design event on innovation, design and brand, attracts the best of the global design world to Hong Kong. “ (source

Flickr Photos

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