Reading Rooms

Bow Arts & Shoreditch Park Primary

About the Project

We were commissioned by Bow Arts, on behalf of Shoreditch Park Primary School, to co-design bespoke reading corners in 4 different KS2 classrooms.

We carried out 4 workshops in each class to develop concepts, and create elements that linked with their favourite things about reading and their class authors, before designing and installing four distinct, immersive reading hubs in the school.

Throughout the workshops the children identified a number of visual themes and structural ideas, as well as a colour palette that resonated with each authors’ work. We incorporated these into the designs for the different spaces.

Roald Dahl's stories are well loved and have many iconic scenes and details. We recreated Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket on the floor, and paid homage to 'The Twits' inverted living room with a chair and carpet on the ceiling. The class wrote their dream narratives swirling within handmade marble paper and tucked safely inside one of 'The BFG’s' Dream Jars. To honour the illustrations of Quentin Blake the students used pen and ink to draw characters onto Luggage labels to decorate the inside of the structure.

Birds and feathers are recurring themes in David Almond’s work such as 'Skellig', 'My Name is Mina' and 'My Dad is a Bird Man'. Almond Class decorated hundreds of feathers to cover the ceiling. The class also created intricate string stars (inspired by 'Counting Stars') that decorate the exterior and interior. A copper Ladder leads to an acrylic dome in the roof; referencing 'The Boy who climbed into the Moon' and the atmospheric forest from 'Savage' is the backdrop to complete this space.

Michael Morpurgo’s books frequently address the natural world, it’s beauty and the creatures who inhabit it. Based on the children's' ideas, we designed a magical forest enclave, with a waterfall and river running through it. Morpurgo Class produced intricately decorated wooden leaves which form the roof canopy and made adorable cork woodland creatures to live in its branches. This class now get to read in whilst sat on the riverbank deep in a forest!

Australian illustrator/ author Shaun Tan often creates surreal, mechanical and strangely amusing dystopias. We captured his rugged industrial and topsy-turvy sense of humour in a a vehicle like contraption and with a star chart on the floor and grass on the ceiling. The exterior is embellished with tongue in cheek bureaucratic instructions, directional signage and mechanical hardware, inspired by 'The Lost Thing'. The class created the inner workings with decorative cog powered panels. Growing from the ceiling lawn are bizarre alien plants from Tan’s short story 'Eric', also made by the children.

Timeline

November 2016 - February 2017

Our Tools & Approach

Workshop 1: Using the idea of a 'writers shed' as a starting point, the pupils worked in groups to design their own 'reading sheds.' They used ideas from discussions about what they love about reading, their favourite places to read and themes from their class Authors' work to decorate two dimensional panels of a flat pack shed template.

Workshop 2: We returned with an abundance of model making equipment to encourage the students to think about how they could develop different shapes for the structure working in three dimensions.

Workshop 3: In the interim we developed a structural design and concepts for each reading room. Each class made a number of physical detail elements which were incorporated into the final structures.

Installation: During half term, we installed and decorated the structures, wrapping them up so the children wouldn't see until we came back for the final workshop.

Workshop 4: The pupils in each class produced a second set of elements to decorate the reading rooms which were unveiled for them to use on world book day.