Several months ago, I came across this photo on the Playscapes blog which blew my mind. It had so much to it, that I’m still trying to take stock of its potential, fun and relevance to schools everywhere. It is the work of Simon and Tom Bloor. It can be found at Cotham School in Bristol and is called ‘Formula for Living – Linear Composition’.
And how this was turned into the composition:
Now that you see how it was designed, infinite possibilities exist. This particular grid is extremely open-ended. If you look at colouring books of symmetrical patterns, or traditional patchwork quilt designs, then suddenly the principle can be widely applied. Maths teachers, eat your hearts out! You will really know what to do here – and your thoughts are especially welcomed.
In the words of Simon and Tom Bloor, there were lots of reasons for developing this particular design.
“We wanted to create an artwork with an opportunity for some form of potential use, but where a function is still to be realised and can change depending on the user’s needs and desires. In response to the school’s specialisms in Mathematics and Performing Arts we made an abstract design that might look like a lost mathematical language, architectural ground plan or futuristic playground game and that could encourage users to act in a playful way as they navigate the space. The work’s linear pattern creates corridors and enclosed zones, offering new ways to navigate the yard and small areas for individual and group activity.”
Simon and Tom have used this grid for other designs and projects too. For example, the chalkboards below have been created from the same grid. These can be found at Hermitage Primary in Tower Hamlets, London. Be warned – the more you look at these, the more possibilities that you see appearing…
- Which line will produce the most 4-side shapes?
- How many children can fit on one line?
- What is the total length of the red lines, blue lines and yellow lines? Does this match your estimates from before you undertook the measuring activity?
- Blindfold child and see if another child can give accurate directions to walk the line.
- What household or other objects do these lines remind you of?
- Which shapes are symmetrical and which could be made symmetrical with the addition of one more line or the use of complimentary coloured chalk?
- What shapes could be made from each starter using just one more line?
- Can we use sticks in some way to accurately recreate the shapes on a smaller scale?
- Create Carroll or Venn Diagrams to sort and classify the markings, e.g. Red – Not Red, Right Angle – Not Right Angle
- Find a path from one end of the playground to the other using alternate colours
- Play ‘Human Pinball’. Plot a path. Travel in straight lines and change direction when meeting another line. This could be tested with a football too.
As well as the “Formula for Living” linear playground design. Tom and Simon also created a spatial composition indoors. Again, this is a useful springboard into geometry-based artwork: