Dezeen Magazine

Studio Curiosity covers bridge in ribbon rainbow to show support for NHS

Design platform Studio Curiosity worked with local residents in east London to wrap a bridge in a rainbow of ribbons as a "message of hope" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Called RAW Rainbow, the art installation is made using cellulose acetate ribbons and covers a footbridge in the Royal Albert Wharf (RAW) in the borough of Newham.

RAW Rainbow design installation by Studio Curiosity in London, UK
RAW Rainbow covers a footbridge in east London

The project is shortlisted for Dezeen Awards 2020 and has already won the public vote in its category.

Andrew Morris, an architect and the founder of Studio Curiosity, lives in the RAW apartment complex.

He began by creating his own rainbow of ribbons as part of the national Clap For Carers campaign in the UK, where members of the public showed their support for the NHS by applauding on their doorsteps and making signs with symbols of rainbows.

RAW Rainbow design installation by Studio Curiosity in London, UK
Ribbons were woven to create a rainbow pattern

"The ambition for this project is to create a united message of hope by bringing the local community together in the collective production of a public artwork," said Morris.

"The project started with my own balcony," he added.

"Balconies have become a poignant interface between the public and the private recently. The prototype was developed into one that could be adopted and scaled up to transform large pieces of infrastructure such as the bridge."

RAW Rainbow design installation by Studio Curiosity in London, UK
Local residents cut and installed the ribbons

Morris worked with RAW Labs, an art centre managed by the Bow Arts Trust, and the Notting Hill Genesis housing association to create a rainbow for the bridge.

RAW Rainbow involved 50 residents cutting and wrapping 5,000 metres of ribbon on to the bridge over the course of seven days – while complying with social distancing rules.

Residents were invited to collect a takeaway pack of ribbon to cut at home. Individual households then went down to the bridge and wrapped a section in timed slots over two weekends. Vulnerable residents were still able to participate in RAW Rainbow by cutting up ribbons while shielding at home.

RAW Rainbow design installation by Studio Curiosity in London, UK
The colourful project celebrates the NHS

Seven colours are woven between the metal struts of the bridge in a mosaic pattern that blends brick-sized blocks of colours together to create the rainbow.

"Fundamental to my approach was community participation in both the production and installation, whilst adhering to strict government guidelines," said Morris.

"The process has reinforced the importance of considering our physical and mental health and wellbeing. It has also shown how a creative activity can bring value to the community during these unprecedented times."

RAW Rainbow design installation by Studio Curiosity in London, UK
Local residents were able to work together safely during the pandemic

To make the project as sustainable as possible, Studio Curiosity sourced acetate satin ribbon which will be reused by the Bow Arts Trust when the installation is removed.  The acetate ribbon is a fibre made from cellulose extracted from wood pulp and is certified OK Biodegradable by a TUV inspector.

The ribbon is held in place by tension, some tape and a single staple to make it easy to remove without damaging the bridge.

Balcony prototype for RAW Rainbow design installation by Studio Curiosity in London, UK
Andrew Morris prototyped the design on his balcony

"I hope this provides the opportunity, as a community, to collectively show our gratitude to all the key workers and NHS staff across the country," said Morris.

"I am also interested in the idea of replicating and spreading the project through an Open Source network where the project can be re-purposed and re-used for the identity and enrichment of each city, district or neighbourhood."

Other installations shortlisted in the installation design category for Dezeen Awards 2020 include an air quality data project that displays the pollution level to the public, and a film made using artificial intelligence.

Photography is by Rob Harris, video is by Danny Williams.

Project credits:

Design: Studio Curiosity
Architect: Andrew Morris
Support: Bow Arts Trust, Notting Hill Genesis
Participants: Bill Allgood; Angie Allgood; Lottie Allgood; Rodrigo Alvarenga; Sarah Baggoo; Oscar Balmaseda; Momtaz Begum-Hossain; Milana Broda; Daniel Broda; Peter Broda; Filipe Carvalho; Aaditya Chintalapati; Charlie Claydon; Danni Cow; Kristen D'Intino; Nick Deveney; Kirsty Deveney; Alex Foyle; Migeul Garcia; Anna Gibb; Alma Goralski; Ashley Handley-Collins; Roksana Hussain; Teja Jadeskaitė; Gabija Kalinauskaitė; Laura Kendrew; Pau Ling Yap; Andrew Morris; Chandrika Nayak; Tommy O'Connor; Kyrah-Ellyse Ofosu; Dorota Olczyk; Lizzie Pan; Matt Ponting; Annie Rawle; Jessica Rogers; Victoria Smith; Martin Smith; Joss Taylor; Satya Tirumala; Keon Yung; Malgorzata Zaleska; Gitare Žuromskaitė.