Milka Maneva, Ana Zikova, Teodora Vasileva, Emilija Stojanoska @ 27th annual Summer School of Architecture at the university Ss. Cyril and Methodius – Skopje; 2018) [Jurgen Patzak-Poor, Michael von Matuschka, Conor Moloney]
This years’ 7-day workshop had a theme – GAME – in which the participants had to incorporate new ways of studying and exploring the village and adding new meaning to the architectural research. The research had to involve the five different characteristics of the GAME: (1) RULES, (2) ELEMENTS, (3) STRATEGY, (4) CHANCE, and (5) FIELD. The sense of the game makes us think in a new dimension which has a feeling of looseness and, also, a bit of fun, while also investigating new ways of progressing through it.
In order to investigate this new type of research, the mountain village of Lazaropole was our starting point. It is a village in which the old and the new prosper, while still visually defining their era of construction. The buildings are of similar shape and size, yet none is identical. In every single square meter the differences are clear and offer a characteristic element in which the GAME might progress.
As a group we saw that the houses in our location were positioned in a specific way and we took that as a leading line in our research. In order to evolve the built environment in a game we interpreted the actual houses, paths and entrances as ‘ELEMENTS’ and the way they were positioned as a ‘RULE’, the location was the ‘PLAYING FIELD’, the villagers’ way of building as ‘STRATEGY’ and finally the landscape as ‘CHANCE’.
The whole idea of the game is based on how the built environment works, how in different places different rules must be applied – in our case this game corresponds to the rules in Lazaropole, how the buildings can and must form social spaces based on the needs of the actors and the given characteristics of the site, and how the actors role as a builder can change in order to get the benefit for his creation.
The finished project is a board game which includes the previously described characteristics of the GAME with a minimalistic approach in order to be incorporated in a wider area of the built environment and also, to make it understandable to the actual people who make the space a living thing.
How limiting/permitting was the format of the game?
A positive aspect was that there were no strict limitations in terms of the format. However, there were limitations in materials which required making a precise plan about which materials to represent the location and which techniques to use.
How did this allow you to frame and define the project in a unique and different way?
The game’s main frame was the playing field that we chose, which resulted in the board, as well as the elements which we concluded were crucial to incorporate. While defining what the game will consist of and what its limitations will be concerning the playing field and rules, we had to keep in mind how our mental depiction of it and our ideas would be represented in a visible and material way. That aspect on its own was a guide to the shape and form of the chosen elements. Finally, in the last step when the materialization came into place, we carefully chose the materials from those which were available to us, in order to represent every element with its own unique characteristic and authenticity.
In developing a project in 7 days, how was this structured? What was your work process in terms of research and development of the game itself?
The work process involved two different presentations derived from two types of analyses. The first task was to analyze the location which was chosen by every individual, therefore forming a group. The second task was to use the analyses and to make a prototype model of the game. The game itself was derived from every person involved in the group. Knowing what our strengths are we divided the types of analyses to each member, while also working as a group throughout the whole process.
What defined the final articulation of the game? What other board games did you look to/inspired you?
In order to keep us active and thinking we had to bring with us games for us to play when we were not working. As the saying goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The game that we created is a sum of two games – Monopoly and Ludo (tactics, rules, chance, luck), but with a bit of Jenga thrown into it which acts as a metaphor for the building.
How many players can play? Was this something which influenced the design?
The maximum number of players is two. With that number we wanted to show the actors/builders involved in making houses, the problems they will encounter along the way and the work they will have to put in to get to a solution. While this is very utopian, there is a catch – the winner of the game is the one who has built the most houses i.e. the human instinct to outwit one another comes in play. Hence the name of the game. But there is still another catch – the game can end in a tie. The design was actually the one who influenced the number of players.
When articulating the final medium, what were your biggest concerns?
The biggest challenge was to make sure that the game is understandable while still remaining true to the architectural inspiration from the village.
Once playing, did any interesting and unexpected outcomes come out?
Without playing the game we wouldn’t have actually constructed it. Most of the problems occurred while playing it and with that we were able to form and mould the rules which were laws that we saw during the visiting and analyzing of the site.
Would you classify the game as an important tool for an architect?
We think that the game has potential to be used in a much bigger scale because of its simplicity and rules from other locations can be adapted to it. We also think that the game is accessible to any age group – it can get people involved in their own surroundings, see how the built environment works and to engage their thoughts and creativity into it.