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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.96 Santiago ago. 2017 

Works & projects

Sandboxing. A game of resource negotiation



The question of how to make architecture an instrument of awareness has been wondering around the discipline for decades. This project, a temporary pavilion in the city of Dallas, presents a new answer to this question. Through an architectural game, in which participants must negotiate within a finite space and limited resources, architecture becomes an instrument to raise awareness about planetary resources scarcity.

Keywords: architecture; game; water; sand; negotiation.

(The) sovereign art, of course, will be the one whose laws rule over the relations among men in their totality. That is, Politics. Nothing is alien to Politics, because nothing is alien to the superior art that rules the relations among men. Medicine, war, architecture, etc. - minor and major arts, all without exception - are subject to, and make up, that sovereign art. Augusto Boal, Theater of the Oppressed, 1973

Source: © David Leeson

Figure 1. 

There is perhaps no aspect of architectural and urban design more satisfying than the ability to envision and communicate visions that change the built environment. To do this we have a set of go-to tools: plans, sections, models, renderings, etc. Many of our tools, however, are famously not so good at expanding the conversation, allowing non-architects to join and even question and rework proposed visions. This becomes even more difficult when wanting to engage a broader set of stakeholders who may not understand architectural conventions. This is why I have become increasingly interested in how games and gaming can supplement other design tools to broaden the socio-spatial imagination and conversation. The potential that games bring to architectural production is an open-endedness that seeks to not simply validate a preconceived idea but instead tests it and creates opportunities for change.

Source: © Noah Simblist

Figure 2. 

Source: © Quilian Riano

Figure 3. 

Source: © Constance Y. White, sldcreative

Figure 4. 

It is in this context that I built Sandboxing, a pavilion/game designed for the New Cities Future Ruins convening in Dallas: a four-year curatorial initiative inviting artists, designers, and thinkers to re-imagine and engage the extreme urbanism of America’s Western Sun Belt.

Sandboxing asked participants to playfully negotiate two key resources for the future of the southwestern city: land (sand) and water. This all happens in a pavilion made up of a sandbox designed to change as players negotiate space and a structural dew-catcher canopy - a passive system used in arid climates to extract water particles from the atmosphere. Without any outcome prescribed, players are left to make the choices of sharing collectively or further restricting access to ever diminishing resources.

Source: dsgn agnc

Figure 5 Axonometric. N. S. The Game: Moving pieces of wood and sand to negotiate the spatial lay out of thesandbox and the watercollected by the dew catcher. Full game elements: Sandbox framework, Movable wood pieces, Dew catcher and canopy, Seating areas. 

Source: © Quilian Riano

Figure 6. 

It is perhaps in this last point, which proposes that critical games can create the conditions for ongoing negotiations and shaping of space, that games may be able to have their biggest impact in design. In order to shape space, we need to be able to negotiate space and the flexibility to envision change. When treated as a game that does not necessarily assign winners and losers, the negotiations can be rehearsed and the changes can be piloted. This transforms designers into facilitators, guiding more robust processes that accommodate the diverse publics that are the primary users and potential beneficiaries of the spaces and urban conditions we help design.

Source: © Noah Simblist

Figure 7. 

Source: dsgn agnc

Figure 8 Elevation. N. S. 


Architect: dsgn agnc

Location: Jubilee Park & Community Center, Old East, Dallas

Client: New Cities Future Ruins

Construction: Ash studios

Materials: Sand, wood, metal, dew catcher mesh

Project year: 2016

Creative Commons License Este es un artículo publicado en acceso abierto bajo una licencia Creative Commons