ENTRY #270

Controversial Tax Game by Mikolaj Bialko


Since the very beginning of our civilization every enterprise, such as building a road, an assembly hall or a temple required extraordinary efforts. These enterprises could have been private ventures undertaken for prestige, revenue or as an act of philanthropy. But it also happened that market halls, squares and ducts were built by the common effort and for the benefit of the whole community.

But do we still have that notion, that whole cities are in fact commons? Over the centuries we have reached a high level of specialisation – an unavoidable necessity of progress. Instead of committing directly for the common enterprises, we have learned to recalculate our time, strength and imagination into money. We use it as a tokens, given away to the city governors, so that they can exchange these again into the necessary work of highly qualified professionals.

With the growth of great metropolises, that clear concepts underlying the organisation of the cities became hard to notice. The so called “public space” often seems to be a private realm of the city governors, used mainly to get revenue instead of making that space accessible and comfortable for the inhabitants.

In order to try to shift that process, let’s start with increasing the awareness that city is in fact a common, by playing a simple game – the Controversial Tax Game. You can drop a pound through a mobile app to support the city and have the app’s drawing engine return an institution or infrastructure funded from the municipal budget. Nowadays, when people are in constant movement, paying taxes in one town is a decision, that you want to contribute for that certain community. Of course, it’s simplified, superficial – it’s just a game. But that’s a good start.


Mikolaj Bialko – architect, research PhD student (urbanism), scouting instructor. Involved in many projects, both as a leader and supporter, including exhibitions, concerts and urban games. Experience in movie making, board game designing and event organisation. Hosted a radio show. Always active, organizing people and observing the city.

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