The 2014 ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge

The 2014 ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge invited applicants to present innovative new concepts to improve the element of play in early childhood (0-8 years), reimagine urban spaces and playgrounds, and the way young children interact with space.

Entries were received from 12 countries, across disciplines that included design, architecture, early childhood, performing arts, technology and production. Ideas included pop-up spaces representing the local country, iPhone apps to encourage children to play outside within nature, spaces and concepts to enable full enjoyment for children with access requirements, and large-scale playgrounds inspired by the ‘A Different Class’ typologies presented by Lekker Architects with the Lien Foundation earlier this year.

In February, the 12 Fellows assembled in Tokyo and Yamaguchi, Japan, for a one week Innovation Camp, organised by the British Council, Yamaguchi City Foundation for Cultural Promotion and with the support of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM]. The camp was facilitated by UK experts Shelagh Wright and Ella Britton.

There, they worked with local and international experts to further develop and refine their ideas, experience new and innovative models of design and ideation, and collaborate across countries. At the end of the Camp, the Fellows resubmitted their ideas for the opportunity to secure a portion of the SGD$50,000 funding available to further develop their concepts.

The 2014-15 ELEVATE Fellows are:

Dang Thi Minh Thu, Vietnam

Dang Thi Minh Thu was an art director of Kidstallation- a playground launched by Tohe Social Enterprise in 2014 - 2015. Having experiences in teaching art for children, researching art projects and opening art and cultural events in Hanoi since 2003, she joined Tohe team in September 2014 to create an creative playground for children – Kidstallation. She led for Kidstallation on creative ideas, planning and organisational development.  She believes art installation may be an art solution to the challenge of long-term innovation and childrens’ playgrounds. In 2016, Kidstallation is still on its way to open new playgrounds for children in Vietnam. Her  academic record includes Printmaking (BA) in Vietnam University of Fine Arts, Social Sciences and the Arts (Dip), Cultural Policy and Management (MA) in City University London, UK.

Grant Menzies, UK

“I gained a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. Inspired by the birth of my first Daughter, my Thesis, titled 'The City of Play', focused on the study of child's play, learning and imagination which formed the basis of an Playful Urban Design Ethos. My Studies were a precursor to the foundation of a social enterprise, also called 'The City of Play'. Our Business is 'Architecture for Childhood' - delivering the social, health and economic benefits of play through design, community engagement and delivery of planning guidance.”

Chloe Meineck, UK

Chloe Meineck is a social designer and founder of STUDIO MEINECK, a design studio that designs with people rather than for people. The Studio usually creates interactive products for social good. The award winning - Music Memory Box - is the studios first product to be designed and put into production, it was developed on national and international residencies, working with people with dementia to design and create a personal, multisensory reminiscence tool that harnesses simple electronics. The Studio often collaborates with academics and charities in order to create well researched, tested, fit for use products. Trove, a product especially for children in care and adopted children to record, playback, edit and archive stories about objects, has just been trialled with adopted children in a local authority in the UK.

Ben Barker, UK

Ben Barker is an experience designer and founder of design practice PAN Studio, producing interactive objects for installations and immersive theatre, and creating experimental objects designed to find new ways of enriching everyday living. PAN’s work explores the significance of experience when used as the key element in the creation of new objects, systems or services. Recent work has focused on the digital reclamation of public space for playful interactions. Their projects include Design of the Year shortlisted Hello Lamp Post, a city-wide platform for play, and Run an Empire, a territory control strategy game that you play in the space around you.

Paul Drury, UK

Paul Drury-Bradey has spent the past ten-years working on a variety of brands, campaigns and projects for some of London's most creative communications companies. He is passionate about creating projects that build a positive social change and deliver lasting value.

Paul has worked internationally on three creative projects for the British Council in Moscow, New Delhi and Tokyo as part of the organisation's cultural economy / creative entrepreneur programme. His latest work saw him win a prize to launch an idea called PlayFinders. This project aims to collect and connect traditional games and play from around the world. It will create a global and inter-generational dialogue through play cultures.

Before moving to London, Paul worked in local newspapers in the north of England.  He is part of the Courvoisier Future500 network of thought-leaders, is a mentor at leading tech incubator MassChallenge, and also mentors with Sheffield University's widening participation project. He loves to write, mostly on culture + technology, contributing to a variety of websites and editing his own blog:

James Sale, UK

James Sale is a designer, maker and project manager working across scales in the built environment. With a focus on education and participatory processes he uses his professional architectural training to inform and enliven a wide variety of projects. As a co-founder of Pop Up Parks James leads on all aspects of physical design and making, working with families and communities to turn streetscapes into vibrant, adaptable play spaces. After many years as a director of RARA Co-operative Workshop he is now founding director at Collaborative Design and Build Ltd. (Co-DB) where he leads a growing team of creative arts, architectural and joinery specialists on a wide range of public and private sector projects. He is a guest critic and lecturer in Architectural Media at the Bartlett, UCL, and regularly teaches on creative project leadership and critical thinking courses for sixth form students held at UWC Atlantic College.

Sumitra Pasupathy, Singapore

Sumitra Pasupathy, the engineer from Cambridge who co-founded Playeum has close to a 20-year track record in initiating, managing and leading innovation work in the creative and education sector.  From product development in instant coffee and fabric softeners; to new initiatives in the media sector; the mother of three most recently co-founded an international award winning social enterprise to enhance experiences for young children through play.  Playeum’s vision is to advocate for children's voice through providing open-ended experiences; with creative partnerships in collaboration with artists, designers, makers and technologists.\u2028\u2028 Playeum has been shortlisted as a Pacesetter in the Lego Foundation play2Learn challenge and the Ben & Jerry Fan Choice Award 2014.   Sumitra is currently the Country Director of Ashoka Singapore, Malaysia.

Francis Sollano, Philippines

Francis Sollano is a trashion and installations artist known for his contemporary takes on upcycling garbage into wearable art and converting urban spaces. A graduate from the University of the Philippines with Business Management major in Finance and Economics, as a self-made social entrepreneur, he incorporates his love for the natural environment in his delicate handmade creations under his own label FRANCISSOLLANO. His works have been featured in various global publications. He is currently the creative director of Youth for a Livable Cebu and a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.

Ngai Yuen Low, Malaysia

In the past 16 years, Yuen has gone from producing, directing and creating some of the highest rating TV programs in Malaysia and the regional countries; to joining the corporate world for four years; to running a non-profit arts advocacy organization, Kakiseni to enables access to creativity and innovation through arts and cultural pedagogy models. In addition, Yuen conceptualized WOMEN:girls, a registered cause driven NGO to drive women's share of voice. Adding to her list of accolades: Most Successful Woman of 2014 by Jessica Magazine, Bella Creative Award 2013 by ntv7, Women Weekly’s Great Women Of Our Time 2012 award as well as Her World's Young Achiever 2008.

Fakhrizal Nashr, Indonesia

Fakhrizal is the founder and adviser for Yayasan Anak Kampung Cimande and Yayasan Komunitas Belajar Indonesia. He is also a social scientist for Environmental NGO, The Nature Conservancy Indonesia Terrestrial Program. He developed tools for learning and enablers for organizations and works collaboratively to promote conservation and free education programs in Bogor and Berau District. Currently he is implementing homeschooling approach program in Cimande as an alternative school for children. He is passionate to talk about forest conservation and always encourage children to access direct nature experiences. Fakhrizal graduated from Bogor Agricultural University and earned double Master degree from University of Eastern Finland and Swedish Agricultural University.

Bronwyn Cumbo, Australia

Bronwyn Cumbo is a researcher, interaction designer and composer/sound artist who designs experiences to connect people in urban contexts to the natural world. Her most recent interactive installations include Aural Fixation (City, Data, Future Exhibition, Venice, 2014), and Flotsam and Jetsam (Hijinks Festival, Sydney 2014). She performs violin in 'Hinterlandt' and 'Silent Spring' and composes music for film and a variety of ensembles, incorporating natural elements into all her music. Bronwyn is currently undertaking a PhD with the University of Technology Sydney, where she is developing a participatory methodology to support children co-design digital tools that support their play in urban natural places. This methodology has been developed through fieldwork conducted with children and parents in Aalborg, Denmark and Sydney Australia. She was recently awarded a 12-month Australian Government Endeavour Scholarship to support a visiting research position with the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) at the City University of New York to continue to develop participatory approaches that will increase children's participation in the design of physical, virtual and hybrid environments. 

Neil Hobbs, Australia

Neil Hobbs is a graduate from University of Canberra, Bachelor in Landscape Architecture, 1984. He is a current PhD candidate at the University of Canberra. His research considers the question: “Can Public Art Transform the Public Realm?” He is a Fellow and a past National President of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.  Neil is currently curating Canberra's new public art festival:  contour 556.  This event will present artworks and performances around Lake Burley Griffin Canberra for 3 weeks in October 2016. 


Read more about some of our Fellows’ experiences at the Innovation Camp and beyond, here: