Monday 02 February 2015

The British Council and Lien Foundation today announced the originators of the 12 leading ideas for ‘Reimagined Play’ across Asia-Pacific and the UK. 

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 typologies presented by the 2014 Lekker Architects-Lien Foundation project, ‘A Different Class’. 

The following 12 applicants of the ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge, representing a diverse range of nationalities, were judged the best by the panel, and will become ELEVATE Fellows for 2015:

Ben Barker UK
Bronwyn Cumbo Australia
Paul Drury UK
Neil Hobbs Australia
Ngai Yuen Low Malaysia
Chloe Meineck UK
Grant Menzies             UK, Scotland
Dang Thi Minh Thu Vietnam
Fakhrizal Nashr  Indonesia
Sumitra Pasupathy Singapore
James Sale UK
Francis Sollano Philippines

The panel of judges – consisting of senior representatives from the Lien Foundation, Lekker Architects (Singapore), British Council, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] (Japan), St James’ Church Kindergarten (Singapore) and ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands (Singapore), Demos (UK) and international playground manufacturer Lappset – was hugely impressed by the creativity of applicants in approaching the ELEVATE Challenge. 

The ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge prompted amazingly innovative and creative concepts to emerge from around the world, including Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, the UK, Indonesia and Malaysia. I was delighted and impressed by the breadth of the ideas and the vision presented by many of the applicants, many of which tapped into social and environmental concerns and addressed these through playful yet thoughtful proposals. Many also skilfully wove technology through their ideas in ways which were effective, open-ended and uncomplicated. Judging which were the best to be developed further was challenging but rewarding, and I am honoured to have been part of this process which gave such insight into the minds of creative thinkers globally.” Anna Salaman, Associate Director of Programmes, ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.

In February, the 12 Fellows will assemble 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 will also be facilitated by UK experts Shelagh Wright and Ella Britton. 

There, they will work 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 will resubmit their ideas for the opportunity to secure a portion of the SGD$50,000 funding available to further develop their concepts.

Partners for the Fellowship and Innovation Camp components also include ICCE, Goldsmiths-University of London and Google. 

Developed and presented by the British Council, ELEVATE is a programme that aims to build a global community of problem-solvers, who will meet practical challenges with innovative solutions to social problems, such as urbanisation, aging populations and sustainability.  

The ELEVATE StartWell™ Challenge is developed in partnership with Singapore philanthropic house the Lien Foundation in line with their StartWell™ initiative, which aims to rethink the priorities of childhood in Singapore. The partnership grew out of a mutual concern for social issues and an ambitious approach to harness creativity and values-based decision-making. 

ELEVATE can run in any country, with any partner interested in effecting social change via creativity and the British Council is currently seeking partners for future iterations of the programme in other areas.

To find out more about ELEVATE, visit 

Notes to Editor

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Burns ( At this stage, only limited information can be shared about the ideas themselves as they will undergo intensive workshopping during the camp. For more information about a particular Fellow, please contact the British Council directly.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. 

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.  

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