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Architecture alumni's work to temporarily transform Leeds City Centre
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Architecture alumni's work to temporarily transform Leeds City Centre

written by Richard Allen | 1 August 2017
Bo Muchemwa and Steve McCloy studied Architecture at Leeds Beckett, graduating in 2010. They both work for major architectural practices in London but maintain a close working relationship. Following an ideas competition run by Park Here & Play and Project Office at Leeds Beckett their design, Redscape, will transform Victoria Gardens for two weeks in August.
This summer, Victoria Gardens in the heart of Leeds City Centre, will be transformed into a pop-up pavilion and play space designed by Leeds Beckett alumni Bo Muchemwa and Steven McCloy

As part of Park Here & Play, a unique partnership between Leeds City Council, Leeds Art Gallery and DLA Design, Bo and Steve’s design Redscape will become a reality for two weeks from 12 to 28 August to start the countdown to the reopening of Leeds Art Gallery in October 2017. Redscape will be made from hundreds of red and white universal road separators in a composition of assembled structures. The aim is 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.”

After Park Here & Play partners teamed up with Project Office - a design and research collaboration of staff and students at Leeds Beckett – we launched an ideas competition in May inviting our alumni to create a design for the temporary transformation of the public realm outside Leeds Art Gallery. The judging panel comprised young people and key stakeholders with shortlisted applicants invited to talk about their proposals with the young persons’ panel and show how their ideas responded to the brief.

Simon Warren of Project Office at Leeds Beckett said “In this project two exceptionally talented alumni are collaborating with clients, users of the space and the professional team. I believe students are a ‘force for good’ and this kind of work is really important for universities to be involved in for the benefit of students and society.”

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.

Leeds Art Gallery said “Bo and Steven 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.”