1525 People vs. Power: Reimagining Our Local Power Stations

Black and white photo of power stations

This was a workshop hosted by Architectural Designer William Harvey and artist Ryan Boultbee, two creatives obsessed with the built environment.

We gathered as a small group to share our thoughts on the future of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, the one with the big cooling towers from all over Nottingham, an unofficial landmark that welcomes you to the city. It is likely to be the last coal-fired power station in the UK.

To start, we introduced ourselves and our curiosities around the power station. The responses we shared were varied and diverse, from an interest in engineering, to simply being intrigued by the possibility of becoming CHANGEMAKERS. Through a series of carefully researched images, they introduced Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station: it’s scale; a brief timeline, 1968-2024; it’s sculptural form as a creative muse; a site for protest and civil disobedience; and, an archetype of climate change.

Craft model of the power station
Drawing of the power station
Man in blue top standing beside the open power station
Two women standing by the powerstation model
Powerstaion model opened
Two men, the instructors, sitting and holding a paper

Using an architectural scale drawing, depicting the empty shell of a cooling tower, they encouraged everyone, individually and COLLECTIVELY, to share their ideas about what a future re-use of this part of the infrastructure could be.

We saw a range of fabulous ideas, including vertical farms, community housing, a giant game of snakes and ladders, and a colossal pop-up cinema. We stuck all the drawings onto the walls of Nottingham Contemporary, assembling a micro exhibition to collectively soak up the creative possibilities.

What do YOU think the future of Ratcliffe-on-soar power station should be? Surely, together, we can navigate to something exciting that benefits Nottingham, and evidences our climate change heritage. The site faces - demolition, redevelopment, an incinerator being built and possibly even a gigafactory!? Is this what local people want?

A figure of a person beside the model powerstation
Table of people drawing on the powerstation sheet
A women holding her activity sheet
A man holding a paper with photos about the powerstations
A table surrounded by people sitting and looking at the information sheets
Table of people drawing on the activity sheets
A man discussing his PowerStation idea
A woman discussing her powerstation ideas
Powerstation design ideas on a table
A man describing his powerstation idea
All the activity sheets stuck on the wall for display and a woman standing beside them
A powerstaion drawing

Future of Futures is an immersive year-long research, engagement and artistic project led by young people. Borrowing from sci-fi as well as role play and scenario planning techniques, our project will be set’ in a future version of Nottingham at the end of the 21st century, to collectively reimagine the role of culture and our gallery.

This project is supported by The Weston Culture Fund and The Foyle Foundation.

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