Air Balloon Hill Primary School

Air Balloon Hill Primary School, Bristol

β€˜In other words, the playground, instead of telling the child what to do (swing here, climb
there) becomes a place for endless exploration, of endless opportunity for changing play.’ –
Isamu Noguchi, 1952

For the commission at Air Balloon Hill Primary School Matthew Butcher Studio, working in collaboration with artist Melissa Appleton responded to the need for a space where the school could gather for outdoor events and performances whilst allowing the playground to be used for day-to-day activities. The work draws inspiration from the playground projects of artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi (quoted above), whose compositions of abstract shapes and forms invite imaginative interpretation by children rather than presenting instantly recognisable shapes and forms.
The proposal presents a black line in space, to appear as if a drawing from the ground has been lifted into the air. Like a proscenium arch in an indoor theatre, the steel structure presents a framed view or notional stage for performances. A pair of red curtains, fabricated by a sail maker in Bristol dresses the structure for performances and events.
The painted pattern on the ground, reflects the geometry of the structure above
and mimics the shadows it casts on the ground.

Designed by: Matthew Butcher and Melissa Appleton (Previously working as Post Works)

Project commissioned as part of Primary/Bristol series of art commissions, in collaboration with the Arnolfeni Bristol and Curator Aldo Rinaldi.

For further information please see

Photography by Max McClure,

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Matthew Butcher is an academic and designer. He is Associate Professor in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and editor and founder of the architectural newspaper P.E.A.R.: Paper for Emerging Architectural Research. His work has been exhibited at the V&A Museum, London; Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York; The Architecture Foundation, London and the Prague Quadrennial, Prague.

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