Play the City Team

Dr. Ekim Tan, Founder/Game Designer

Born in Istanbul, I relocated to the Netherlands after having worked and studied in the United States, Syria and Egypt. Being trained as an architect, my growing interest and passion in cities and games led to a doctoral degree at the Delft University of Technology, titled “Negotiation and Design for the Self-organizing City: Gaming as a Method for Urban Design”

In 2008, I founded Play the City, an Amsterdam and Istanbul based city consultancy firm that helps governments and market parties effectively collaborate with stakeholders. Since developing the City Gaming method during my doctoral research at the TU Delft, it has been applied in projects worldwide, among others, in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Tirana, Cape Town and Brussels.

In my role at the Play the City, I stay well-informed about the latest developments in societies and technologies worldwide. This helps me give the right direction to a young and growing firm. Meanwhile, I regularly travel to lecture and give trainings about cities and games; amongst which are the Technical University of Delft, Aleppo University for Arts and Sciences, Rotterdam Architecture Academy, Amsterdam Architecture Academy, Copenhagen Business School, and Middle East Technical University.


Janine Loubser, Spatial Designer

Growing up in South Africa, I have always been fascinated by the diversity of contexts and people's everyday experiences of urban life. After matriculating I decided to first nurture my creative side through attending film school where I developed a range of practical and technical editing, visual effects and set design skills. Specialising in motion picture medium and art directing, I worked in the film industry in Cape Town for 2 years on advertisements and short films, but was keen for something more tangible in terms of social value and impact.

Following up on my passion for cities I decided to pursue a career in urbanism. In 2012, I completed my master’s degree in city and regional planning at the University of Cape Town with Cum Laude. Hereafter I worked for 2 years as a planner in the private sector, engaging with urban as well as rural contexts across a variety of scales. In early 2015 I decided to relocate to the Netherlands to gain international experience and broaden my knowledge of the Dutch approach to 'Ruimtelijke Ordening' and Urban Design.

Attending a game session in Khayelitsha in 2014 triggered my interest in city gaming. Now having the opportunity to work more closely on game design and experiencing the results through various projects, I am more passionate than ever of the effectiveness of the method for more coherent urban planning processes.


Nicolas Klaus, Communication Manager

Originally from Germany, I discovered the benefits of living abroad and experiencing different cultures at a young age. In the Netherlands and Australia, I pursued University degrees in Political Science and Communication Science. Subsequently, I spent time in India, where I worked as a business developer.

Engaging with different cultures is a great way to learn about your own belief-systems and to question old ideas and convictions. At Play the City, many projects are international and they bring together people with a variety of professional backgrounds. Often, stakeholders have very different ideas on how solutions to challenges should look like. It is an exciting task to develop communication methods that enable them to collaboratively realize complex projects.

My job at Play the City focuses on the question of how Gaming can become a more widely applied method to engage multiple stakeholders in city making processes. To do so, I develop communication plans, visit conferences, write articles, and am always happy to explore new ideas.


Jacob Buitenkant, Game Master

Born and raised in Amsterdam, I was intrigued how cities work from an early age on. Therefore, I Studied Architectural History and Urban Planning at the University of Amsterdam. Since then, I have been involved in projects in the Netherlands, South-Africa, Germany, France, England and Morocco.

From 2010, I have worked for different architecture and urban planning institutions, predominantly as a Project Leader for the International New Town Institut.

Since 2012, I also work with Play the City to support the development of an effective method to involve stakeholders in the planning process of urban areas. My job as a Game Master is about facilitating Gaming sessions and stakeholder meetings. Furthermore, I give presentations to Municipalities, Housing Corporations and Educational institutions. I also participate in panels that explore the opportunities of serious games in a broader field.



Tanya Chandra

I am an Indian Architect learning to be an urbanist at TU Delft. Cities have always fascinated me because of the diverse set of variables that play into defining it. To add to this conundrum, most cities are in transition due to the social and/or economic implications; they are like Matryoshka dolls – there’s always a picture within the picture.

After my bachelors in Architecture, I worked three years in Ahmedabad, India, where I discovered that experience is the most effective way of learning. The experience of travelling being my biggest personal treasure, I have seen Indian cities develop their own smart-but-dirty fixes – what we like to call ‘Jugaad’, owning its complexity through layers of personal touches; in contrast to Dutch cities that are more a picture of experimental community within modernity.

This twin approach to cities might seem like it’s running in opposite directions, but it resonates with the African proverb “Everything you do for me without me, you do against me” – a proverb that brought me to ‘Play the City’, because city play sets the foundation for understanding the complexity behind city making, its various stakeholders, and their even more variant views. Through my work at Play the City, I am learning what defines the diversity of a city.


Di Fang

Coming from China, I chose to come to Europe to experience a totally different culture. I pursued my bachelor’s degree in urban planning in China and am now doing my master’s study in Urbanism at Delft University of Technology. The bicultural experience allows me to capture a more global view and have a more comprehensive understanding of urban issues. With a strong interest in the socio-economic field, I am currently pursuing my graduation project about Shenzhen under the Chair of Design as Politics (alliance of Ministry of Infrastructure and Environmental Directorate and TU Delft).

Unlike traditional urban planning/design, which focuses on spatial design through top-down methods, nowadays this discipline emphasizes more cooperation and bottom-up organizations. Urban designers are expected to be negotiators using professional knowledge to connect different stakeholders.

The systematic method for negotiation developed by Play the City excites me – a lot. It invents a new way to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement in city making projects, and it is a meaningful experiment for future development in urban planning field.

Local Partners


Shannon Royden-Turner, Partner Cape Town

I’m based in Cape Town, where my greatest interest derives from the question: how to facilitate win-wins among people with conflicting interests? My field of work lies, especially, where ecology meets development.

To understand and heal the relationship between diverse people, and the relationship between people and nature, I established a consulting service that applies deep systems research and design within the urban environment. The aim of my work is to create abundant and flourishing cities throughout Africa. To achieve this I focus on the relationship between urban infrastructure, equality and regenerative development, using biomimicry and lessons learnt form nature as a blueprint for success.

My interest in innovative city-making and critic of top-down decision making has brought me to Play the City, where I work as a Partner for projects in South Africa. I help delivering local services and conduct research for effective stakeholder management in multidisciplinary settings.


Ulas Akin, Partner Istanbul

Born in Istanbul, I applied an international perspective through experiences in neighborhood associations, academia, the private sector, and local governments. Trained as city planner in Istanbul, and specialized in urban management in Rotterdam, my practice captures the training of urban professionals and lectures to graduate students from various disciplines all around the world, namely from North America, Northwest Europe, Asia and Africa. I have been also engaged with several EU projects, and various planning projects addressing ecology, transport, environment, cultural heritage, logistics and capacity building at Istanbul, in the SEE and the EU contexts.

Cross-cultural and dramaturgical perspectives on city making, and complex multi-actor decision-making practices have provided unique insights. In 2015, I will have a PhD from Istanbul Technical University focused on phenomenological aspects of the decade of planning practices from institutional capacity building and innovation dimensions.

I have facilitated workshops, attended project meetings and gave lectures in Austria, Macedonia, Kenya, Somali, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Syria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States. My greatest motivation is to understand the nature of uncertainty and complexity in order to enable dynamic learning by unifying theory and practice. My role at Play the City is providing support and feedback at the earliest stages, and to expand and tailor Play The City’s approach to the rest of the world – to better build a new generation practicing new, innovative standards in 21st century city making.


Muge Yorganci, Partner Istanbul

Born in Istanbul, I’m trained in City Planning with a double major in Art Management. My Urban Design Master at Yıldız Technical University was supported by a Scholarship from TUBITAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey).

As an urban designer, I rethink conventional strategies and clarify complex urban issues. I am inspired by assignments that challenge development norms and threaten the city, our most durable cultural artifact, as a vehicle for telling stories about the highest aspirations of society. My special interest is in collectively designing urban interventions that challenge city’s expectations.

As an urban design coordinator, I have been working in an architectural firm focused on bringing a designer’s eye to planning challenges, synthesising information on sites and architectural design. Previously, I worked at Arkitera Architecture Center in Istanbul, as an events coordinator addressing international examples of inspirational architectural practice and urban design approaches worldwide.

Joining Play the City in 2009, my role focuses on advising policy aspects, strategic planning, urban design frameworks, and providing input for increasing design quality in Istanbul via the City Gaming approach.

Play the City Network

Since 2008, Play the City has been working with a growing network of skilful and motivated professionals. With most of these professionals we keep our close contact for potential collaborations.
Here is a list of these experts

Prof. Juval Portugali [IL]
Prof. Arnold Reijndorp [NL]
Hans Vermeulen [NL]
Suzan Christiaanse [NL]
Cristina Ampatzidou [GR]
Hans Larsson [CA]
Thomas Stellmach [DE]
Prof. Wouter Vanstiphout [BE]
Marta Relats [ES]
Mike Emmerik [NL]
Dr. Michelle Provoost [NL]
Bert Oostdijk [NL]
Mark Schmeink [NL]
Jacob Buitenkant [NL]
Alexandra Tsatsou [GR]
Azadeh Mashayeki [IR]
Alex Mackinnon [SA]
Pieter van der Kooij [NL]
Chris Keulemans [NL]
Esther Slegh [NL]
Su Tomesen [NL]
Sabrina Lindemann [DE]
Sito Veracruz [ES]
Lilly Lam [US]
Diana Ibanez Lopez [UK]
Prof. Murat Cemal Yalcintan [TR]
Orhan Esen [TR]
Willem Velthoven [NL]
Veronica Kovacsova [AT]
Martijn de Waal [NL]
Michiel de Lange [NL]
Julia Hundermark [SA]
Yulia Kryazheva [RU]