Poohtown by Nick Elias uses Winnie-the-Pooh
to bring happiness to 1920s Slough


Bartlett architecture graduate Nick Elias has reimagined 1920s Slough, England, as the happiest place on earth by overlaying its industrial landscape with scenes from Winnie-the-Pooh (+ slideshow).

Poohtown by Nick Elias

Conceived by Elias to promote the importance of "happy architecture", Poohtown offers a fictional alternative to the depression and social exclusion that characterised Slough after the First World War, when the town become a centre for little but industry.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

"For the project, 1920s Slough is revisited to capitalise from the economy of 'happiness' as an alternative industry, using Winnie-the-Pooh as a metaphorical protagonist," explained Elias.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

In the revamped city, visitors and locals are invited to take a nostalgic pilgrimage through some of the fictional scenes of AA Milne's classic tale, from a rabbit's picnic to a balloon launch.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

This concept is based on the duality that existed between the happiness of the story and the real-life misery of the central human character Christopher Robin – Milne's son. "That's the reality of failure. He was tortured by it," said Elias.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

Applying this same premise to Slough, the city is transformed from an industrial sprawl into a fictional wonderland filled with familiar characters and friendly architectural structures, designed to appeal to human emotions.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

"PoohTown reflects on the potential of today's cities in prescribing policies of happiness alongside familiar amenities," said Elias.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

According to the designer's initial research, most people are at their happiest when "playing a fictional representation of themselves" – from buying food at farmers' markets to putting on a new outfit – so a fictional pilgrimage is the perfect way to indulge this tendency.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

As part of the project, Elias has produced a series of posters promoting the city. Based on the Metro-Land posters of the same era, these are designed to lure Londoners to visit or even relocate to the new Slough.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

One image shows a jar of honey being poured over a ruined housing block, as a symbol of future development, while another shows the city as a sunset that can be seen from London's Tower Bridge.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

"It is partly about perception," said Elias, explaining how the idea is also based on developing a financial model for the city. As well as creating places for fun, there are also a number of retail opportunities.

Poohtown by Nick Elias

The designer believes the project offers a message for cities today. "We need to design for emotion," he said. "Glass and steel can only do so much, and all people really care about is happiness. It's worrying that cities don't really deal with that."

Poohtown by Nick Elias

Nick Elias completed Poohtown as part of the Bartlett's Unit 10 – the drawing unit led by architect CJ Lim. He received a distinction for the project.

Poohtown by Nick Elias
City masterplan
Poohtown by Nick Elias
Destinations map – click for larger image
Poohtown by Nick Elias
Ministree of Make-believe view and section – click for larger image
Poohtown by Nick Elias
Balloon launch site – click for larger image
Poohtown by Nick Elias
Site section through Ministree of Make-believe and Ministree of Adventure
  • bemused architecture graduate

    This is depressingly irrelevant!

    • another bemused archigraduate

      But oh so joyously beautiful! What a conundrum!

    • romatronasaurus

      It is charmingly critical not to mention beautiful.

    • Read again

      Isn’t it simply a message about current happiness in Slough? The 1920s bit keeps it fictional I think because ‘real’ utopias often fail. Here it remains as a happy perception? Your comment is irrelevant!

    • Bah Humbug

      Bah humbug n rattle, stop squirming at these drawings, what offends you so much that you shriek ‘irrelevance’. Answer me this, irrelevant how?! They ponder and answer questions in a fictions Slough, they ponder and drift and answer with wow. The drawings are stunning, the line work elite, to be honest dear sir, they’re quite hard to beat.

      So next time you shudder at things unclear, write and ask questions through a letter, they begin with Dear…

  • finn wilkie

    “We need to design for emotion,” he said. “Glass and steel can only do so much, and all people really care about is happiness.”


  • G.N

    Don’t get me wrong, the images are beautiful, but what is the relevance of this to actual everyday architecture? It is fantastical, and just irrelevant. We shouldn’t be directing students to do this kind of work if they are seriously considering a career in architecture.

  • christopher robin

    Best work I have seen so far from the Bartlett School of Graphics.

  • SomewhatSceptical

    What a load of pooh!

    • Rage Against Architecture

      This is an exemplary explanation of this project

  • Winnie da Pooh

    What if they’re not seriously considering a career in architecture and just exploring creative design and political messages through the course? Not every student follows their subject into a career?

  • terry

    Can’t blame the students. They have to work within a certain framework set by the studio master in order to score well in the studio, get a distinction and get hired easily. You would say it’s creative, I would say it’s work from the ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ template.

  • Massimo

    So damn great. Well done, boy.

    • Slider

      As a resident of Slough, this is good stuff. Anything that might influence and soften the built environment around me is. If Nick Elias in the future gets to design things that impact on we mere uses, then hopefully he will remember this exercise and let it influence his future designs.

  • Robert Lubetkin

    Another CJ Lim Poo Project. Dezeen should just do a post on CJ Lim. Rumour has it he also had a hand in Zaha Hadid’s paintings.

  • James Hunt

    Ha. Poohtown.

  • netim

    Sick of people saying, “oh but how is it relevant, how do you build it”. That’s stupid. You learn how to make buildings in an office anyway.

    University is a foundation for critical thinking and doing things you won’t be doing for the next 40 or so years in an architectural office. Your extremely naive if you think university will help you “build” buildings. The best way to learn “HOW” to build is in practice.
    One of the best ways to learn “WHY” is in university.

    University is five years of your lets say 40 year career, so why the hell not experiment and test ideas being speculative?

  • J Stirling

    Beautiful… but Dezeen, why can’t you show us other examples or projects that are producing or reflect buildings that give a sense of real architecture. I disagree with comments that suggest that having the freedom of school prevents you from producing buildings that are also beautifully imaginative.

    I was also at the Bartfest show and there were some truly beautiful examples of real buildings that in now way appeared any less impressive. Give us some more!

  • archigrad

    What a load of bartletecture.