Leeds Victoria Gardens
Artists impression of the new Park Here and Play. Credit Bo Muchemwa and Steven McCloy
7 mins read

New pop-up pavilion transforms Victoria Gardens this summer

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 is a unique partnership between Leeds City Council, Leeds Art Gallery and DLA Design to temporarily transform Victoria Gardens, outside of Leeds Art Gallery

• The pop-up pavilion and playspace marks the countdown to the Leeds Art Gallery re-opening in October 2017 with a two-week programme of free creative activity

• A design competition launched in May invited alumni of Leeds School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture to respond to a creative brief

• Competition winners Bo Muchemwa + Steven McCloy will see their winning scheme Redscape realised in Victoria Gardens this summer from 12-28 August

• The design takes inspiration from the Tiled Hall at Leeds Art Gallery and reflects ‘tiles’ repetitive pattern in the form of 3D modular blocks repeated to create graphic patterns

• A programme of events are planned to explore the use of public spaces in the city responding to the Leeds 2023 European Capital of Culture bid

• Park Here & Play will run in parallel with other nearby initiatives including Leeds City Beach and the Cookridge Street Pop-Up Park

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.

Winning Design

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.”

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.

For interview requests and images please contact: Hollie Latham

Park Here & Play is a multidisciplinary project providing opportunities for artists, designers, landscape architects and architects to collaborate and play a vital role in shaping the relationship between Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds City Council and the public realm. Park Here & Play builds on the success of previous temporary interventions delivered by DLA Design and Leeds City Council. www.parkhereandplay.co.uk Twitter: @parkhereleeds


The aim of the competition was to re-imagine the public realm outside Leeds Art Gallery to break down barriers and inspire residents, workers and visitors to creatively engage with Leeds city centre and to use this opportunity as a test bed for ideas of art in the public realm and how to create playful public spaces.

The judging panel comprised young people and key stakeholders and took place on Thursday 15th June. Shortlisted applicants were invited to talk about their proposals with the young persons panel and show how their ideas responded to the brief. The judges were Simon Warren, Leeds Beckett University (Project Office); Sarah Brown, Leeds Art Gallery; Natalie Walton, Leeds Art Gallery; Rebecca Thomas, Leeds City Council; Harriet Parker, Leeds Youth Panel; John Clark, Leeds Youth Panel; Trudi Entwistle, Leeds Beckett University; Kate Watson, DLA Design; Oliver Brown, DLA Landscape and John Orrell, DLA Design.


Bo and Steven studied at Leeds Metropolitan University and graduated in 2010. They currently work for major architectural practices in London, but maintain a close working relationship.

Their primary concern is collaboration on projects that expand their scope beyond that of commercial architectural practice. Together they have made entries for more than a dozen national and international design competitions, regularly featuring in the shortlists. They have also received a number of private commissions, including one for a new build sustainable ‘Country House Clause’ home in Cambridgeshire.

Their work is founded on a deep respect for the artistic process, each project is as bespoke as it is innovative and they are committed to making affordable, understandable and evocative work – architecture, interiors, objects and landscapes.


A programme of free activity during 12 -28 August will include film screenings from Leeds Art Gallery collection, the launch of a poster completion for the re-opening of Leeds Art Gallery, a celebration of community through a world food event along with the ever-popular Playful Leeds Playbox. Over the two weeks’ city arts and cultural organisations have been invited to take over the space with Leeds Library creating story telling sessions and innovation labs as well as Active Leeds getting the city activated and on their feet with free sporting sessions.

DLA Design will present two 4×4 style events with presentations from thought leaders sharing and exploring examples of good design in the public realm and how Leeds approach to placemaking can be at the forefront of design and programming public art. The first of which is: Cultural Cities Part 1: Captivating Minds, Animating Spaces – a 4×4 lecture, will take place on Thursday 17 August at the Northern Terrace lecture theatre at Leeds Beckett University.

Details of the activity programme can be found on www.parkhereandplay.co.uk


Founded in 1888, Leeds Art Gallery has designated collections of 19th and 20th century British painting and sculpture widely considered to be the best outside the national collections. The collection represents the work of early 20th century artists such as Walter Sickert and Stanley Spencer, with the development of English modernism shown through key works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, Jacob Epstein and Francis Bacon.

The gallery is a renowned centre for modern and contemporary art with an exhibition programme that has showcased work of celebrated artists such as Damien Hirst from the ARTIST ROOMS collection through strategic partnership projects with the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, in addition to curating major exhibitions together with Tate (Henry Moore and Terry Frost) and in partnership with the Arts Council Collection. Leeds Art Gallery has established a strong reputation for initiating, commissioning and curating solo exhibitions by significant artists attracting national and international attention.

Leeds Art Gallery will reopen to the public from Friday 13 October 2017 with refreshed collection displays, a series of new commissions and new exhibition programme.

www.leedsartgallery.co.uk Twitter: @LeedsArtGallery


DLA Design is an award winning architectural practice which, embraces the creative energies of its Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects, Technologists and Graphic Designers to produce intelligent and inspirational building designs. With 120 staff in three offices in Leeds, London and Manchester, DLA have been delivering high profile projects for almost 40 years throughout the UK and overseas.

The realisation of our creative concept designs are delivered to the highest standards of quality, technical compliance and client satisfaction. We work across a diverse array of work sector specialisms, including Learning, Sport, Industry, Care, Workplace, Homes, Retail, Conservation and Re-use. With a desire to make a difference to all projects, and seek out what is important to our clients, DLA’s creative people are what makes the difference.

www.dla-design.co.uk Twitter: @dladesigngroup


Project Office is a design and research collaboration of staff and students. It is an architecture consultancy making ethical, social and resilient architecture. We work with like-minded communities, organisations and individuals.

Twitter: @_projectoffice


Park Here and Play is a collaboration with Leeds City Council, Leeds 2023, Leeds Art Gallery and DLA Design and supported by Arts Council England, Leeds 2023, Leeds Inspired, Leeds BID, RIBA, Sir Robert McAlpine, Leeds Beckett University and Project Office, the Academy of Urbanism and Marshalls.

Details of the activity programme can be found on www.parkhereandplay.co.uk

Visit www.leedsartgallery.co.uk for more information about the re-opening this autumn.

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