The Game of Urban Renewal by Flavio Trevisan
Toronto-based artist Flavio Trevisan debuted his board game The Game of Urban Renewal at an art gallery, moving the pieces once a week while playing all of the various characters involved. The game, which can go on infinitely with any number of players, simulates the fate of Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood, an intense locus of the city’s urban renewal efforts since 1947.
In the game, players can assume one of the following roles: City Councilor, Developer, Community Activist, City Planning Employee, Man-On-The-Street, Academic Urban Theorist, Resident of Existing Development to be Demolished, Mayor, Random Federal Politician, Skyscraper Enthusiast, or Garbage Man. They take turns spinning the ‘Decision Engine Wheel’ which gives them license to place various types of development (condominium, office, commercial, park, etc.) on the board. Sometimes, players are given the option to bulldoze development, in which case they can use the ‘Tabula Rasa Rake’ to sweep any amount of placed development from the board. As all of this happens, the city evolves.
The most interesting part of this game might be the bulldoze option, as this simulates many actual urban renewal schemes of the 1950’s and 60’s. Entire neighborhoods were demolished to make way for concrete towers and interstate highways (see images below), planning decisions that North American cities are trying to undo today. The game forces players to make drastic decisions for their city’s future, and subtly cautions against the heavy-handed approach.
True urban renewal has consequences
Planners are still trying to undue damage caused by urban renewal (dead urban spaces)--note: we love Boston City Hall
Images of Boston from Cyburbia