Milan’s Botanical Gardens Transforms Itself Into ‘World’s Largest Board Game’
By Alexa Heah, 25 Apr 2023
Board game enthusiasts can now bring their love for tabletop games into the real world, as architect Italo Rota recently teamed up with architecture firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) to transform Milan’s Botanical Gardens into the “world’s largest board game” for Milan Design Week.
The interactive game—titled Walk The Talk—spans over 3,500 square meters (37,000 square feet), allowing players to go on a “choose your own path” adventure that engages visitors to discover and reflect on how everyday choices can make way for sustainable mobility.
According to the creators, the path was imagined to be a metaphorical stroll around the city, with Milan’s major landmarks featured on the tiles. 32 different icons were used throughout the game, each representing an obstacle or solution to mobility challenges, such as traffic or electric cars.
Either alone or together with others, players can navigate the entire space by looking out for eco-friendly solutions to ongoing issues, the likes of which include overcrowded neighborhoods or a lack of pedestrian walkways. These choices then determine their route along the way.
Interestingly, the gaming tiles, which were created using over 400 luminescent wooden pieces, possess a special energy-harvesting capability that allows them to store energy during the day that later surfaces as a glow once the sun sets.
This glow is enhanced by the low-intensity lighting system in the garden, making the board game playable even after dusk. Italo Rota, the founder of the Italo Rota Building Office, described the project as using a “gaming framework to form a dialogue” between visitors and the site.
“The future of mobility presents substantial challenges which require collective understanding and participation,” explained Carlo Ratti, Founding Partner at CRA and Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab.
“At a time when digital gamification is everywhere, we wanted to experiment with a physical game board—one of the largest ever made. Walk The Talk is an accessible experience to help jumpstart an important conversation about the future of mobility.”
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