Wednesday 08 November 2023


The British Council in Viet Nam is pleased to introduce Our Place in Space, the UK’s award winning sculpture trail and scale model of the solar system will travel to Hanoi following a tour of UK cities during 2022 and 2023. This time the space odyssey goes international as it prepares to touch down in the centre of Hanoi from 12– 24 November 2023.

Led by Northern Ireland’s leading creative media arts organisation, Nerve Centre, in partnership with Hanoi-based social enterprise Think Playgrounds, Our Place in Space is an 8 km recreation of our solar system designed by artist Oliver Jeffers and astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt. The one-of-a-kind sculpture trail recreates our solar system at a scale of 591 million to one, with the Sun sculpture measuring 2.35 metres across, Earth 2.2 centimetres and Pluto just 4 millimetres. Each planet will be suspended within a large, brightly coloured arch, with visitors beginning their journey at Thong Nhat Park, before heading out across space past Hoan Kiem lake and ending at Hanoi Botanical Garden.

Along the way, the multi award-winning Our Place in Space app will allow visitors to further explore the solar system, experience the planets in augmented reality, consider 10,000 years of human history and collect virtual space souvenirs – including characters from the world of Oliver Jeffers. David Lewis, Executive Producer at the Nerve Centre, says: “The success of Our Place in Space over the last 18 months has shown the project’s universal appeal. The imaginative and playful experience created by Oliver Jeffers invites us all to look at our solar system in a different way — exploring what it means to live on Earth now, and how we might better share and protect our planet in future. We’re really excited by the opportunity to showcase the best in creativity from Northern Ireland and to collaborate with amazing partners in Viet Nam on what will be a truly memorable experience.”

Our Place in Space’s arrival in Hanoi is being delivered as part of the British Council’s UK/Viet Nam Season which runs from June until December 2023. Donna McGowan, Director of the British Council in Viet Nam, says: “Our Place in Space is more than an epic art installation; it's an exploration of our place in the cosmos, an opportunity to contemplate our existence from a unique perspective, across multiple sectors, whilst connecting with the wider community. As we engage with this inspiring project, thanks to Northern Ireland's Nerve Centre and Viet Nam's Think Playgrounds it underscores the importance of collaboration and partnership in addressing our shared challenges here on Earth. 'Our Place in Space Hanoi' is a testament to the creativity and influence that emerge when the UK and Viet Nam come together, and it exemplifies the spirit of collaborative inspiration throughout the UK/Viet Nam Season. We are proudly presenting 'Our Place in Space Hanoi' as a pivotal part of the UK/Viet Nam Season in the British Council’s 30th year in Viet Nam.”

The trail and associated programme is an international collaboration which sees Nerve Centre and Think Playgrounds partnering with the Vietnam National Space Centre, Nha Nam Publishing, Hanoi Astronomy Society and Hanoi Creative Design Festival. A launch event will be organised at Thong Nhat Park at 8.30am on Sunday 12 November. On 12 and 19 November events will include designing astronaut helmets, joining an interactive book tour and getting creative making space slime and more.

The learning continues beyond the sculpture trail with the free to download Our Place in Space Minecraft world that allows you to journey through the solar system while exploring history. This free map on Minecraft Marketplace has already been downloaded over one million times. Also available are free curriculum-mapped classroom resources created with Oliver Jeffers and Professor Stephen Smartt to integrate engaging space lessons into the classroom. The resources are free to download from

Dat Nguyen, PR Director of Think Playgrounds, says: 'As a social enterprise advocating for more public play spaces, we're thrilled to collaborate on this imaginative project that harnesses the power of playful learning. The Our Place in Space trail and events will promote discovery and inspire appreciation for our planet.'

Notes to Editor

Oliver Jeffers is a visual artist and author working in painting, bookmaking, illustration, collage, performance, and sculpture. Curiosity and humour are underlying themes throughout Jeffers’ practice as an artist and storyteller. While investigating the ways the human mind understands its world, his work also functions as comic relief in the face of futility. Jeffers’ engagements and practice are truly international in scope. His critically acclaimed picture books have been translated into over fifty languages and sold over 14 million copies worldwide. His original artwork has been exhibited at such institutions as the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Palais Auersperg in Vienna. Jeffers has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award, Bologna Rigazzi Award, An Irish Book Award, and a United Kingdom Literary Association Award. Oliver grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he currently lives.

Professor Stephen Smartt FRS is professor of astrophysics at Queen’s University Belfast and has previously worked at the University of Cambridge and the UK’s Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes. He uses telescopes around the world to survey the sky in search of exploding stars. An exploding star is called a supernova, which can shine with the power of 11 billion suns. Professor Smartt leads several international teams using telescopes in Chile (in the southern hemisphere) and Hawaii (northern hemisphere) to search for these spectacular explosions. He also searches for light emitted by sources of gravitational waves which are thought to be dense neutron stars that smash together. Professor Smartt is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and was awarded the George Darwin Lecture and Herschel Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society and the RIA Gold Medal in the physical and mathematical sciences.

Nerve Centre is Northern Ireland’s leading creative media arts organisation with a vision of ‘changing live through creative technologies and the arts’. More than 120,000 people a year benefit from a wide-ranging programme of arts events, innovative projects, creative learning, and production facilities. A successful social enterprise, Nerve Centre employs 50 staff in Derry~Londonderry and Belfast. At an educational level, Nerve Centre has developed the Creative Learning Centre model, empowering teachers and community learners to engage with creative technologies to unlock learning in the curriculum. Nerve Centre’s artistic output has gained an international reputation with Oscar, BAFTA and Turner Prize nominations.

Think Playgrounds is a social enterprise in Vietnam committed to increasing the number and to make environmentally friendly public playgrounds in city centres.

For media inquiries, please contact: Thuy Nguyen, Communications Manager, British Council in Viet Nam at

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021–22 we reached 650 million people.

About British Council in Viet Nam

The British Council has an established presence in Viet Nam, with a dynamic portfolio spanning the arts and creative industries, education (higher, vocational and non-formal), and English teaching, learning and assessment, delivering a range of academic and professional UK qualifications. We have 370 staff in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City across nine offices and teaching centres. Four new young learner language centres were open in 2023, with more planned in the coming two years. We have built extensive networks, connections and partnerships between UK and Vietnamese individuals, organisations and institutions across all areas of our work, and with ambitions to further expand these networks.