This summer Victoria Gardens in the heart of Leeds city centre will be transformed into a pop-up pavilion and playspace for two weeks from 12-28 August. Park Here & Play is a large-scale ambitious project and realised through a collaboration with Leeds City Council, DLA Design and Leeds Art Gallery and other partners building on the success of previous interventions in the city centre.
Park Here & Play will start the countdown to the Leeds Art Gallery re-opening in October 2017 and aims to create a relaxing, creative and inviting space that inspires residents, workers, visitors, children and families. This city centre intervention provides an interactive space with an artistic programme of workshops and events that turn the gallery inside out alongside a series of seminars to discuss and debate the design and programming of public spaces in cities in the UK and abroad.
In May, Park Here & Play partners teamed up with Project Office – a design and research collaboration of staff and students at Leeds Beckett University – and launched an ideas competition inviting Leeds Beckett University alumni to create a design for the temporary transformation of the public realm outside Leeds Art Gallery.
The winning design called Redscape is created by Bo Muchemwa + Steven McCloy, both of whom studied at Leeds Metropolitan University graduating in 2010 with first-class degrees and are now based in London. Bo and Steve will collaborate with artist Trudi Entwistle and DLA Design to turn their ideas into reality.
Redscape will be made from hundreds of red and white Lego like blocks called Universal Road Separators in a composition of assembled structures to create a playspace that feels like a special enclosed garden that is welcoming for everyone – a mixture of large and small intimate spaces to eat lunch during a busy lunch hour or for a family picnic at the weekend.
Bo commented “We liked the idea of playing on contemporary art by taking simple everyday objects and flipping perceptions – the concept is driven by social interaction and playfulness and will create a natural and welcoming experience, like climbing around a rocky cave, being surrounded by a forest or like water flowing around pebbles.”
Leeds Art Gallery said “The competition winners Bo Muchemwa + Steven McCloy have exceeded our ambitions for the design of a playscape for Victoria Gardens. Their scheme is bold and will sit as a beacon in the city centre inviting people and intriguing them from afar. Splashes of bright colour will create zones in which activities can take place and there is a wonderful hide and seek playfulness with their design. As Leeds is submitting their bid for European Capital of Culture 2023 it is fitting that we demonstrate how we can work collaboratively to achieve an extraordinary summer pavilion for Park Here & Play that transforms Victoria Gardens and creates a unique environment in which visitors are invited to play, reflect and mark the countdown to Leeds Art Gallery re-opening in October.”
Leeds City Council said “Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is an ambitious and imaginative project which demonstrates how much culture permeates so many different aspects of life in Leeds and why our bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2023 is so important. As we move closer towards the exciting reopening of Leeds Art Gallery, it’s also great that families and people of all ages will be able to come together in front of this iconic building and enjoy an interactive, creative space at the heart of the city centre.”
John Orrell, Director of DLA Design said “This is a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Council and the Gallery and raise the bar for the potential of our public spaces. We have built upon our previous projects to realise a much more ambitious design that will be free for everyone to enjoy and encourage all to see their city from a different perspective.”
All Park Here & Play partners are contributing to achieve this ambitious programme with additional funding from Arts Council England, Leeds 2023, Leeds Inspired, Leeds BID, RIBA, Sir Robert McAlpine, Leeds Beckett University and Project Office, Academy of Urbanism and Marshalls.