Primary/Bristol: Colston's Primary School
Primary/Bristol: Colston's Primary School
The Brutalist Playground by Assemble and Simon Terrill. Photo: © Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for RIBA.

2014 - 2016

Primary/Bristol: Colston’s Primary School



The redevelopment of Colston’s Primary School (now Cotham Gardens Primary School) is part of Bristol City Council’s Primary/Bristol series of artist commissions for primary schools commissioned as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme. As part of the development, London based group ‘Assemble’ were commissioned to develop an art work for the school working closely with pupils, teaching staff and the school’s Head Teacher. 

Assemble’s project for Colston’s Primary (now Cotham Gardens Primary School) ‘A Deck of Furniture’ will take the form of a landscape scheme at the rear of the school and adjacent to its rear garden space. Integrated into a stepped timber floor scape, the work comprises a set of furniture, which will be set into the deck itself. Like a deck of playing cards, the Deck of Furniture will use a basic set of characteristics which will be adaptable, creating a variety of possible uses. 

The furniture will be a construction kit at the scale of a room – the individual units small and light enough to be manipulated easily by a child, large and stable enough to be used together to make a variety of different environments, suitable for both learning and play, child-lead activity and formal set-ups. Robust, adaptable, playful and transformable, the furniture will pack easily away into the deck leaving a clear, open space ready to go. The Deck of Furniture can used to create particular environments, from performance or story time to make-believe and imaginative play. 

The project is scheduled to be completed in October 2016. 

This project has been made possible through funding from Bristol City Council as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme. 

Assemble is a 17-person collective formed of a core group of architecture graduates who completed their degrees in architecture at Cambridge in 2008. Its membership also includes artists, designers and others educated in entirely non-visual disciplines. They came together in 2009, with an ambition to build — the architecture graduates among them admitting to frustration at the slow pace of delivery that they encountered as year-out students. Their early projects include The Cineroleum, a pop up cinema that operated for three weeks in summer 2009 under the canopy of a disused petrol station in London’s Clerkenwell. Constructed in large part from salvaged materials and built by a workforce of more than 50 volunteers, the project was imbued with a glamour that belied its low-cost origins. The iconography of the golden age of cinema-going was brought to bear on the materials of the builders’ yard: drop-down seats constructed from reclaimed softwood planks, an encompassing black-out curtain made from yards of Tyvek. 

Other projects include the Folly for a Flyover which was built on the edge of the Olympic Park, and Theatre on the Fly (both 2012), which stood alongside the Chichester Festival Theatre — as well as the installation for the British Council’s (Lina Bo Bardi exhibition) and the conversion of a former sign factory in Stratford into a space that will run until the site is redeveloped both as a venue for public events and as Assemble’s own studio. Most significantly, Assemble has completed its first permanent project, the re-landscaping of a square at the heart of New Addington, funded through the Mayor of London’s £50 million Outer London Fund.