Folly 2018 – The Cloud

NYSA (North Yorkshire Society of Architects), North Yorkshire, 2018


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NYSA, National Trust, Charlotte Graham     Download Original

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A new folly for the National Trust in North Yorkshire.

NYSA organised a competition for 9-11 year olds to design a new folly for the National Trust at Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal in North Yorkshire as part of a wider campaign that invited architects Charles Holland, Flea Folly and artists Lucy and Jorge Orta to reinterpret the historic follies of the World Heritage Site.

In collaboration with RIBA and its Architecture Ambassadors programme, workshops were run by local architects to 2,500 children at 50 primary schools across Yorkshire and the North East. The competition was entered by over 1,700 children, and eventually won by 11-year-old Foster Carter, whose wish to catch and hold a cloud near to the ground followed in the tradition of whimsical notions that might have informed folly designs historically.

The design was developed by NYSA volunteers and fabricated by Stage One and was situated within the World Heritage Site water garden of Studley Royal April – October 2018. It was important to stay as close to Foster's original design concept as possible, so Foster was actively involved in the development of his design right through the technical design and construction process.

The installation uses a 4.2m high glulam timber and steel frame to hold up a fibre glass ‘cloud’ of collected rain water.

Foster's consideration of the materials and their impact on the setting was incredibly mature for someone so young. The notion of a muted natural material (timber supports) with 'highlights' of bright orange (steel) to act as a marker at the site was no accident. The project was hugely successful in the way that it introduced contemporary architecture and design to a large group of children and, through the installation, to over 250,000 members of the public.

The Cloud has been donated to Foster’s school as a permanent reminder of his fantastic achievement. All competition entries can be viewed at


  • Begun: Apr 2018
  • Completed: Apr 2018
  • Floor area: 18m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £20,000
  • Funding: WYSA (West Yorkshire Society of Architects); Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation; Stage One; RIBA; JES Northern
  • Procurement: Letter of agreement
  • Address: Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY , United Kingdom

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