A participatory game to understand the future of public space.
Academic | 2022
Solo project
Mallcraft is a design probe that looks to understand the functional and cultural roles of public space. Its inspiration was the nearly 200 malls of Singapore, each with slightly different objectives – some for locals to eat and socialise away from the outdoor heat, some for tourists to be dazzled by otherworldly experiences, some to preserve the cultural heritage of Singaporean crafts or traditions. Conventional malls are less popular in the United Kingdom, but continue to exist in new forms, such as the newly renovated Battersea Power Station. By acting as a game, Mallcraft asks players to speculate on what form malls could take in the future. Players draw three cards: a location card with a city or neighbourhood from around the UK, a challenge card with an everyday objective they’ll need to complete, and a wild card that reveals a game-changing personal or societal piece of what this future looks like. They’ll use pieces to build a place on the board that combines their three cards, where their future counterparts could find a space to fulfil their needs.In Mallcraft, all roads lead to mall — but what form that mall takes is up to the player, and their cards, personality, ideas, and worldview will shape the space they build.

Research + Analysis

While studying in Singapore in Autumn 2022, I very quickly noticed the city had an unusual number of malls. I soon discovered these were one of the city's primary activities. Curious about the social role these malls filled, I began to catalog malls as I traveled and observe what went on inside them. When I returned to the US and UK, I did the same. I began developing my own theories of malls (for instance, that their popularity as venues for even non-shopping activities in SE Asia was because of air conditioning) and tried to begin developing categories to understand them. Only once I had my own theories in place did I turn to desk research and learn what experts in urban design, economics, and travel had to say. (Spoiler: the air conditioning theory was confirmed).  

This research stage helped me
 a) develop questions
 b) outline my goals for the design probe
 and c) deconstruct the building blocks of malls
 that would become pieces in the game

Prototyping the Game

Card design

Live Play @ RCA WiP