Shortlist 2013


Wow! I need this to happen. Imagine if located centrally the amount of fun (and late back to) lunch hours that we could have playing this.
It's also ageless, I know my gran would have just as much fun playing this as me or my young niece.

I am super psyched about this idea. I remember one spending a whole evening playing with helium balloon that I'd weighted to be... weightless. I could make it rise with the just the heat of my hands. Balloons are awesome. a universal symbol for fun.

This would be amazing!! It's about time we took Bristol's iconic relationship with balloons and gave people the opportunity to actually engage with it instead of just taking endless photos of them floating over the suspension bridge. Great!

This would be amazing!! It's about time we took Bristol's iconic relationship with balloons and gave people the opportunity to actually engage with it instead of just taking endless photos of them floating over the suspension bridge. Great!

This looks like it could be street art at its best, combining visual effect with participation - give these guys a chance. Give me a balloon and I will play!!!

A brilliant idea and should definitely win.

Frankly this will be an inspiration, a spectacle that will leave by standers gawping & without doubt that Bristol is THE place in the UK for a) balloons, b) creativity and c) the city where you can interact with your local art work and have an effect. I implore the powers that be to make this astounding idea happen. Immediately.

Many thanks for the supportive comments.

We would really love to make this idea happen. Please spread the wonderful word of the Balloonometer and encourage your friends to leave comments too.

Love this idea! Great combination of creativity, novelty and interactivity. We've all played with balloons at various times in our lives..but never like this, or on this scale. Needing help from others and the two possible fates for the balloons is genius. Really hope this installation happens

anything that is outdoors, fun, engaging and creative such as this, gets a thumbs up from me. and who doesnt like balloons!!

You are quite right ! Who doesnt LOVE balloons. :-)
Thank you for the comment

completely brilliant because its complexity is all in the making and not in the playing. No alienating, audience-reducing techology to master but a perfect medium for making friends with passers-by. Anarchist co-operative play with unpredictable outcomes and lots of permutations. Kindly install one in my workplace now.

This looks awesome. Hope this one happens. It looks like a lot of fun. Plus, ya know, there's giant balloons. How can that be wrong?

Sounds fascinating, very good for people with disabilities too.

thank you, yes we give a lot of thought for our audience on every project we do and wanted to make something that engages and excites absolutely everyone that lives within the city. Its all about bringing a smile to as many as possible.

I love this idea! I think of all.of the ideas thisbis the most democratic - it will be big and unmissable, meaning people can come across it and join in without having to know about it first. I also like that this idea includes, but doesn't at sll rely on, smartphone technology. Believe it or not there are many thousands of people out threre who don't have one!
This idea will be playable by toddlers and grannies and everyone in between which is why it gets my vote :)

Thank you this is very much something in our minds for all projects; especially for the Playable City proposal.

We dont necessarily want people to need to read a manual, download and install software onto certain devices etc before they are allowed to engage ... of course for those who like to play that way we can certainly offer interesting and exciting experiences too! We want as many people as possible to have fun, smile and do something that they will remember and tell their friends/family over dinner that night.

Wow, can't wait to see it alive!

Superb idea - an ingenious way of generating spontaneous interaction, creativeness and fun between strangers within the vast expanse of the city, where despite the high population number and density of people, it may often feel quite lonely. Go for it Bristol! Then please bring it on tour! :o)

Thank you very much. Hopefully if successful it will go on tour...who knows where ? :-)

This is SUCH a cool idea - PLAY is so often overlooked for children AND adults - this will be great slap bang in the centre of an urban environment. Can you tour it to Coventry too?

Brilliant! Completely addresses the need for easily accessible play spaces that cater for adults as well as children. City developers could learn a lot from these guys. Hope it prompts an urban revolution! Please build asap

Excellent idea! Who wouldn't want to play with this? Everyone needs a little more fun in their lives, and having fun while also working with strangers for a common goal is even better!

This sounds the most playful and fun to me! It would look fabulous and feels accessible.

I do like the sound of this idea. Will you stream this so that people can play online or do you want it only to be playable by people in the physical space?

love the collaborative, interactive and just plain silly fun of this one. It is a big toy placed in the city that many citizens can play with. It's a shame that it doesn't also in some way pay with the city...

Thank you...and you never know what secrets might be unveiled if the project is succesful..

I will fallow up on rach's (rachel's?) comment.
Ballon scaffolding on the street really doesnt seem to relate in any way to the city. The location and context of Bristol as a city seems insignifacant to it as the scaffolding could have been installed literally anywhere. It just seems like a short breath surface kind of entertainment, not really innovative or inspiring.

From a design perspective, the use of scaffolding on the street just seems rigid, intrusive and alien. Also I'm curious how this will look when people aren't playing with it.

Hi Mary thanks for your input - I've hopefully answered your questions below.

Scaffolding generally denotes a coming change of the urban landscape - the construction of something new and potentially exciting. This happens every day in our cities and generally people seem uninspired by the potential changes. Buildings are created, not communities.
We are all often too busy to play, sometimes finding 5 minutes in a hectic daily life can seem a challenge. We understand this. We are using the balloon as a recognisable symbol of play and fun that requires no instructions or permission to engage. Balloons are fun!

We are wanting to create something new to combine these artistic ideas and to change perceptions, giving people that chance for 5 minutes of play to raise a smile and possibly talk to someone you have never met before.

We agree that scaffolding can look plain and uninspiring, the ballonometer will be covered and colourful with lights and sounds - much more akin to a vibrant installation piece. With music and lights the ballonometer will still retain an interest without any interaction.

And yes, it may not be site specific however many of the other pieces are not too; if the winning piece is to tour then it makes sense to keep it ambiguous and transferable.

Thanks for the comments / questions :-)


Hi Mary,

Dom from Ludic Rooms here.

I'm going to take the somewhat peculiar step of completely disagreeing with my lovely colleague Ashley on this one.

One of our fabulous project partners, Splash and Ripple, are based in Bristol. We spent a fair old while in the earliest stages of the project working with the them to try and define the needs of Bristol as a location for the commission. There were lots of Bristolian factors that inspired the project, not least the ascents and nightglows of the Balloon Fiesta that have been gracing the city for the last 35 years.

It is true, however, that one of the stipulations of the bid was to create something that has the potential to tour and find a new relevance in different locations.

With regards to the appearance of the scaffolding, we will be working with the fabulous designer Janet Vaughan from Talking Birds, to create a printed scrim that completely surrounds the scaffolding tower* (which I tried to 'suggest' in my sketch for the bid). This will be a bold and imaginative spectacle, designed to entice potential players and develop the mystique of the industrious Blow Up Corp.

*Insider note - The decision to do this was, incidentally a cheeky nod to the controversy that ignited debate among the Bristol community over the Union Jack scrim that was erected on the Colson Tower this summer.

Thanks a lot for your comment, hopefully we might be able to welcome you to play with us some time :-D


Grrr typo. Colston Tower.

Brilliant idea. Outdoor play to confined to ground level.

That is of course "not confined to ground level"


Phew! ;-)

You're bang on with the idea though, a lot of our work is heritage inspired and one of the lessons I've learned from exploring the architecture in urban areas is to 'look up'.

We've tried to do something that encourages people to look up and around, rather than staring down at their feet... or their phones.

Ahh, It reminds me of those Wonderful Waterful games that I used to play when I was a wee one, but better because it's massive! If you build this I'll be stationed next to it all day, with a look of child-like wonderment plastered all over my special little face. Winner!

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant idea! Can't wait!! Sounds as visually exciting as the game itself.The sooner the better - should be a really fun experience - especially for all of us big kids!

Amazing! The city needs this!!

I want to play! it's big boys (and girls) toys...we all love balloons and building with Lego (we'd have scaffolding but it's too big) and then to make it all digital and let us take charge...hope this wins, I WANT TO POP!

We all do love balloons.

I recently went to Disneyland Paris (lucky me). More than 65 rides and attractions, four parades a day, 50+ eateries and dozens of shops selling 16000 different items of merchandise. What does my 5 year old nag me for all day every day? A balloon.

Dom & Ashley,
Thank you for your quick response. Here let me expand upon what I was saying, When I said that it is uninspiring I meant that this proposal seems like a obvious answer to making a city playable i.e insert a big balloon toy in the middle of a city that is a flashy version of the well understood "pin ball machine."

Don't get me wrong, I always value a moment that can bring people together and get them off their phone (even if it's just for a second), but I wish something more of this. I do not see how this can be anything more than a one-trick pony; once people play with it, they will forget about it within seconds.

Once again thank you for your reply I always appreciate dialogue about public work.

Hi Mary,

In the past we've made projects that engage players for 2 minutes, and others that have engages players for 20 hours.

I wouldn't like to try and compare the value of these experiences on the behalf of the players, only to hope that both might plant the seed of a memory, a transformative effect, or perhaps a smile.

A friend of mine tweeted this, from Richard Herring's Metro column earlier today, and it made me think of you.

"I am becoming more of the opinion that the best art lives and dies in the moment: a laugh, a tear, an orgasm, an old tune played by a man with a walking stick in an unexpected place ... it’s not how many people you reach, it’s what effect you have on the ones that encounter you."

I'd like to think even fleeting moments can leave eternal memories.



Ace! this sounds flipping cool... please please make this happen!

I think this sounds like a great idea!
If this project is commissioned I will definitely take a trip to Bristol to see it.
After experiencing other Ludic Rooms installations, I know Dom and Ashley will do a stunning job. Let's make it happen!

The whole concept of play across a wide spectrum of age groups is something rarely achieved, in my honest opinion. However with Balloonometer, I think that the iconic city of Bristol would embrace such a fun way for everyone to interact and let them forget what age they are - for a few minutes or longer. There has obviously been a lot of hard work and decision-making already, PLEASE give this brilliant concept a chance to show what it can bring to the public. A tour to the Midlands if possible too?

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