Assemble + Schools of Tomorrow: The Place We Imagine

two children standing on a blue padded climbing structure pushing a giant inflatable green ball
a child jumping in mid air with the word "explore" on the wall behind her
3: Assemble and Schools of Tomorrow: The Place We Imagine, installation view at Nottingham Contemporary, 2022. Courtesy Nottingham Contemporary. Photo: Stuart Whipps.
  • 1&2: Assemble and Schools of Tomorrow: The Place We Imagine, installation view at Nottingham Contemporary, 2022. Courtesy Nottingham Contemporary. Photo: Julian Hughes.
  • 3: Assemble and Schools of Tomorrow: The Place We Imagine, installation view at Nottingham Contemporary, 2022. Courtesy Nottingham Contemporary. Photo: Stuart Whipps.

"A surreal delight... merry mayhem... bouncing between the play structures in euphoric disbelief that an art gallery could ever be so much fun" – Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian

In 1968, the legendary Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi drew a fantastical playground. This colourful drawing imagines a series of vast structures in front of Museum of Art, São Paulo (MASP), which she had recently designed. They loom over the museum – as though imagined by children, rather than an architect. This was important for Bo Bardi, who wrote: “the young will be the protagonists in the life of the museum through design, music and theatre”.

This utopian play-space was, however, never built. Today, the unrealised design prompts the question: how might we reimagine galleries, play and education?

More than three years in the making, in summer 2022 Nottingham Contemporary will collaborate with the design collective Assemble to bring Bo Bardi’s vision to life. Inspired by the architect’s now-famous drawing, this ambitious project will realise a series of large-scale play sculptures, one of which was developed in dialogue with children from three local schools.

At each school Assemble worked closely with a resident artist and children over time to explore themes around play. Children’s actions, ideas and responses were at the heart of this conversation; Assemble have created a design for and by the city’s children. So, let’s go and play.

Exhibition Credits

Entry

To ensure the safety of our visitors, capacity in this exhibition is limited to 60. You may be asked to wait to enter during busy times. There is no pre-booking; entry will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Please speak to our Reception team about the next available time slot.

During peak periods, you will be asked to limit your visit to one hour.

Safe play

Please take care of your children while enjoying the exhibition, encouraging safe and positive play.

Grown-ups and children are asked to remove their shoes. Please be aware that the floor may be slippery. If you have non-slip socks at home, please bring them with you – if not, a limited number of non-slip socks are available on request.

Please don’t take food and drink inside the exhibition.

Our Gallery Assistants are on hand to support a happy and safe environment. Please help by listening to their guidance and let them know if you need assistance.

install shot of a red and grey slide in a gallery
install shot of a blue and green cushioned climbing structure topped with a green inflatable ball. text on the wall reads "it's not exact. experiment. explore"
an install shot of a gallery with colourful shapes painted on the walls. through an arched entranceway a cushion shaped like a turtle is visible on the floor
an install shot of a large blue and green sculpture with black and white animal cushions arranged around a colourful circle on the floor
black and white animal cushions sit on the floor with the words "it's not exact. experiment. explore" written on the wall behind
a woman and child on a red slide
children and adults playing on a red and grey slide
a woman and baby playing with a large black and white cushion shaped like a dog
a child pushing a giant inflatable green ball in a gallery
children playing with a large black and white cushion shaped like a penguin
children pushing a giant inflatable green ball while adults sit on a bench watching

Assemble is a multi-disciplinary collective working across architecture, design and art. Founded in 2010, Assemble has developed a co-operative working method that enables built, social and research-based work at a variety of scales – both making things and making things happen. In 2015, they won the Turner Prize, the first architects to do so.

Lina Bo Bardi (1914–92) was a prolific Italian-born Brazilian modernist architect. She devoted herself to promoting the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. While studying under radical Italian architects, she quickly became intrigued with Brazilian vernacular design and how it could influence a modern Brazilian architecture.

Schools of Tomorrow is a 4-year learning and research programme funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which places artists in residence at eight local schools. Together, artists and teachers develop approaches to supporting creativity in and beyond the classroom through a process of action-led enquiry. Assemble linked with three of our partner schools to develop a play structure.

Three children stand next to a cardboard play structure, one does the limbo.
Five children play with a structure made of wooden blocks and string
Two kids carefully make a clay sculpture
Five children sit and stand by a tree in school uniform
Six children in single file walk across a raised blank, balancing as they go
A boy dresses in a grey suit plays on a cardboard structure leaning against a tree
A group of children in School uniform play with clay- they have small creations and one larger structure in the middle
Kids play with clay and build a structure in the middle of the table in front of them

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