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Create your own settlement in urban planning card game

16 of January '24
Technical data
Name: Settlement game
Promoter and originator: Tomasz Bradecki, Ph.D.
University: Faculty of Architecture, Silesian University of Technology
Project team: Marta Sanigórska, Natalia Dymarska, Marta Klekotka, Karolina Wąsińska, Julia Stachura, Daria Bal, Małgorzata Wasik, Katarzyna Kotarska, Ola Barańska, Monika Brol
Editorial team: Justyna Nowak, Igor Gdula, Malgorzata Pluta, Daniel Szoltysek, Kamil Kolus, Kinga Karcz, Paulina Miszczak, Blazej Mól


  • design
  • implementation


If you haven't heard of the "Housing Estate Game" yet, it's time to catch up. The unusual card game that allows you to build a mini-neighborhood with different parameters is the result of the work of students from the Urbanmodel research club, operating at the Faculty of Architecture of the Silesian University of Technology. The initiator and supervisor of the entire project is Dr. Tomasz Bradecki , and it is with him that we talk about the game, its variants, educational aspects, and further plans.

The aim of the game is to draw attention to the problem of intensification of residential development and shaping the space of settlements. The versatile game combines 2D and 3D cards and models in the digital world, which make it easier to imagine what specific buildings look like. It can be used as a card game, puzzle game, or urban planning game—regardless of age. A multi-variant board game using cards is in development. "Housing Estate Game" has received recommendations from SARP Katowice, TUP Silesian, PAN AiU Katowice.

Trailer of "Game of Settlement"

© Urbanmodel

interview with Tomasz Bradecki, PhD

Dobrawa Bies: How did the work on the game proceed, how long did the whole process take from the very idea to implementation? What is your role in the whole process, and what is the role of the students?

Tomasz Bradecki: Work on the realization of the game took less than a year. The first ideas of the outline of the game were created in 2019, but a group of avid players and at the same time very capable students managed to gather only in the spring of 2022. In fact, the "Housing Estate Game" is a popularization extension of my publication Indicators, Parameters and Models in the Formation of Intensive Residential Development. However, the game's formula allows us to have a completely different convention that is not scientific, but calculated more for creative and interactive effect. The game would not have been created without the students and the people involved, as well as the supporters. "Housing Estate Game" became the leading project carried out in the Urbanmodel research circle, which received funding in IDUB's internal competition. In the team, we tried to divide the work according to our interests and specialties. Some people worked on the models, some on the graphics, a few people are involved in the marketing setting—the most valuable thing is that we are all co-authors. When we joined the project, we didn't know what the final outcome would be, nor that we would end the project with two decks of 2D and 3D cards (we had planned one) and applications for utility and industrial designs, as well as a monograph. It would not have succeeded without the leaders Marta Sanigorska and Natalia Dymarska and the rest of the team. I would like to emphasize that for the students to write a joint scientific publication is a challenge that they met with a high five.

„Gra w osiedle”

"Housing Estate Game"

© Urbanmodel

Dobrawa: In the description of the game we read that its purpose is to draw attention to the problem of intensification of residential development and shaping the space of settlements. Can such a topic be of interest to a person not connected with urban planning topics? For whom was the game actually designed?

Tomasz Bradecki: I think that if we ask any person without a profile education whether he likes a given settlement and whether he feels competent to describe its qualities, he will have no problem with it. We will hear, for example: "not enough greenery, too high, missing a playground and a bus stop." However, if we ask him questions about more professional criticism, then here it may not be so easy with answers. Too little greenery i.e., not enough biologically active area, or not enough trees? Too high i.e., too tall buildings, or perhaps too many apartments, or too much building intensity? This is how we constructed our game—for everyone. Children can play classic card games such as war, but they can play, also indicator war where the value of a given indicator, not the value of a card, will win.

Gra w wojnę wskaźników

Indicator war game

© Urbanmodel

Youngsters can play a memory game, trying to guess and remember some of the values of urban indicators and their meaning. The most interesting application for intermediates is the "Housing Estate Game", in which players have to arrange the settlement plan and count the total value of the indicators. At any level of sophistication, any player will easily understand that the same value of a card, for example, a king or an ace, does not necessarily mean the same thing, and therefore that a given space (the cards are to scale and each card is one hectare) can be shaped differently. A developer will plan it differently (diamonds) and an ecologist will plan it differently (spades).

Przykłady kart wraz z kodami QR

Examples of cards with QR codes

© Urbanmodel

Naturally, it should be remembered that the formula of cards and the game forced some simplifications, so as to clearly present the main intentions: the developer tries to realize as many apartments as possible, while the ecologist proposes maximum green areas. This is, of course, figurative, because the reality is different: not every developer realizes the PUM max at any cost, and there are, after all, residential developments in line with the environmentalists' rationale. Nevertheless, we wanted to show that different approaches result in different ways of developing space: a resident (kier) and a planner (trefoil) will try to balance the extreme approaches, also realize a playground or a neighborhood store.

 Przykład kart Jokery

The joker of spades is the park, the kier—the resident's quarter, the trefoil—the planner's quarter

© Urbanmodel

The joker, on the other hand, is a unique figure that can successfully replace any card. At the same time, in the case of the "Housing Estate Game" it is a figure with the highest possible value of points. Three jokers are provided: for the deck of hearts, spades and clubs. The joker of spades is a model ecological park of one hectare. A slight hill has been planned in it, which allows you to admire the surroundings and can also be a toboggan hill. In the vicinity of the hill, an extensive retention reservoir was planned, which can serve as a recreational facility. The entire park houses 25 trees, with a bus stop along its sides, as well as a bicycle path and a bicycle parking station. Joker kier is a model resident's quarter. It is planned to include a complex of health (clinic) and cultural services, (neighborhood day care center, community workshop) with infrastructure. The environment remains green with convenient pedestrian and bicycle connections and a bus stop. A community garden has also been planned for the common cultivation of vegetables and fruits for the current needs of residents. Joker trellis is the planner's model quarter. It is planned for a school and kindergarten complex with infrastructure (playing fields, playgrounds), and the surroundings remain green with convenient pedestrian and bicycle connections and a bus stop.
All three jokers symbolize the social infrastructure that is essential for the neighborhood to function. For the purposes of the game, they were distinguished by the curvilinear geometry of the paths.

„Gra w osiedle”, kod QR

"Housing Estate Game," QR code

© Urbanmodel

We are also experimenting with professional applications in our third year classes in the course Designing Housing Complexes. The game allows you to create settlements and at the same time virtually build their counterparts by laying out ready-made 3D models. And this is what we are trying to do after getting acquainted with the cards as a game for the most advanced.

„Gra w osiedle” na Politechnice Gdańskiej

"Housing Estate Game" at Gdansk University of Technology

Photo: Dr. Justyna Martyniuk-Pęczek prof. PG

Dobrawa: On the pages of the Architektura & Biznes portal we published two master's diplomas made on the basis of the game. For what purposes can the cards still be used and who has already played them?

Tomasz Bradecki: The most advanced were the attempts to implement engineering dipl omas using the cards—Marta Sanigórska's entitled. "Urban planning and architectural concept of residential and commercial development complex at Sikornik Housing Estate in Gliwice" and Natalia Dymarska "Urban planning and architectural concept of residential and commercial development complex at Gen. Władysława Andersa Street in Gliwice". For us, the most valuable are all the experiences, including those gathered at other universities, during workshops or public participation. In December 2023, the game received a positive recommendation from PLGBC—Polish Green Building Council, and thanks to the support of PONER, we were able to realize a limited series of cards and it is now available in the store of the Silesian University of Technology. Also in December, we presented it during the Redefining Cities conference at the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. The game received a good reception and will be used at foreign universities thanks to the meeting.

In November, we discussed the game with Przemysław Jedlecki of Gazeta Wyborcza. Also in November, Marta Sanigórska, Natalia Dymarska and Daria Bal represented our game at the International Scientific Conference TOWN, REGIONS, SPA, in a paper entitled. "Problems of creating multivariate studies of land absorption with the use of urban settlement Game". It also appeared at the Silesian Science Festival in December—I discussed it with Lukasz Szwej.

„Gra w osiedle” testowana we Włoszech

"Housing Estate Game" tested in Italy

Prof. Lamberto Amistadi

At Gdansk University of Technology , the game was tested by second-year English-speaking students under the guidance of Dr. Michal Leszczynski (Group 5 architects) and Dr. Justyna Martyniuk-Pęczek Prof. PG. Also in December, the game was tested by Szymon Wojciechowski with the APA Wojciechowski team. Attempts were also made at Karkow Polytechnic University under the direction of Dr. Patrycja Haupt, prof. PK, and Wrocław Polytechnic University by the Habitat Now research circle and Dr. Jerzy Lątka. Cards were also played abroad—Prof. Szabó Árpád from the Faculty of Architecture in Budapest, Prof. Lamberto Amistadi from the Faculty of Architecture in Cesena together with students. They all expressed positive opinions about the game and wrote reviews of it.

„Gra w osiedle”, identyfikacja wizualna

"Housing Estate Game," visual identity

© Urbanmodel

Dobrawa: An interesting treatment is that all the cards have their digital counterparts, some even in augmented reality—what was it like working on the digital version? What is the purpose of such an addition?

Tomasz Bradecki: For us, the line between card (plot) development drawing (card graphics) and virtual space is completely blurred. Design is the shaping of space at least three-dimensionally, so the form of the game allows us to create settlement plans and verify the values of the indicators that define them. The models themselves are freely available to enrolled free users of the sketchfab platform. For example, Ace of Kier, Ace of Clubs. The greatest value is the experiments with virtual and augmented reality. In the case of augmented reality, any user of a smartphone can install a free app and "put" each model in front of them at home or anywhere and explore it. This allows for a better understanding and experience of how the set acreage was developed, e.g. Ace of Spades, King of Spades.

Zespół projektowy podczas Nocy Naukowców

The project team during the Researchers' Night

© Urbanmodel

Dobrawa: What does the future hold for the "Housing Estate Game"? Do you have plans to introduce additions, other games?

Tomasz Bradecki: The premiere of "Game ofSettlement" took place in July 2023. We are currently working on a multifunctional board game that uses cards. As we know, settlements must be implemented on designated plots of land, according to certain rules, and most often this is linked to financing. So we have prepared a set of boards, game pawns and currency. The inspiration is, of course, the game Monopoly, but our game is much more related to the overarching idea of creating settlements that are greener, not too intensive, using public transportation. The game will offer several different games. Release in the second half of 2024.

Test planszówki podczas Nocy Naukowców

A test of the board game during the Researchers' Night

© Urbanmodel

On the other hand, on January 26 this year, I will lead a panel discussion titled „The game of settlement, the game for the future of the residential environment” during 4 Design Days in Katowice. My guests will be: Marcin Baron (Department of Strategic and Regional Research, University of Economics in Katowice), Przemysław Jedlecki (journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza), Szymon Wojciechowski (APA Wojciechowski Architekci) and Magdalena Wojtas (Sustainable Development Manager, PLGBC). You are cordially invited to participate.

Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview and keep your fingers crossed!

interviewed by: Dobrawa Bies

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