A Dreamachine on Every High Street?

A rad wolf

“If you put these machines in churches or temples, I’d go every week. This should be available for everyone, all the time.”

– Audience member

An ambitious intersection of art, science and experience, Dreamachine aims to become a beacon for illuminating human-centred discoveries that hold real potential for personal and social transformation. Our vision for Dreamachine is for shared reflection and connection to be accessible to everyone and integrated into everyday life, like a new kind of public amenity. Visiting Dreamachine could be as easy as going to the bank or a shop, according to Collective Act’s Artistic Director Jennifer Crook in this article in Apollo Magazine

To date, all of the venues chosen for Dreamachine have played an important role in their community as buildings designed and built to bring people together, including a public market, a temple, a church, and an ice rink.  Several were humble, undiscovered or unassuming – places that local residents may have passed by for years without knowing of their history, their significance, or their potential. Bringing a cultural experience to otherwise underused or overlooked city centre spaces can have a really positive impact on the surrounding communities.

We believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of what is possible with Dreamachine – creatively, socially, and scientifically. As Dreamachine tours the world, it’s exciting to imagine the range of public spaces that could be transformed to offer new ways to reconnect. From festivals to museums, town halls to temporary pop-ups – could there be a Dreamachine on every high street? Perhaps one day every city could have a library, a swimming pool, a park and a Dreamachine: an inclusive and secular space to reconnect with ourselves and each other. 

From 2024, we will begin to tour the experience internationally, having already attracted interest from over 40 worldwide cities. If you would like to hear about our next location first, sign up to our mailing list below.

In the meantime, take a look back at some of the unique venues that have hosted Dreamachine so far. 

Woolwich Public Market, London

Dreamachine transformed the Grade II listed Woolwich Public Market, bringing it back to public use and into the heart of the community. Located on a busy high street, the Market was first granted an ancient charter in 1619 and it has acted as a local meeting point for communities in the centuries ever since. 

Dormant since 2019, the building was not without its challenges – including a leaking roof, poor insulation (and ventilation) – even a local family of pigeons. Its beautiful and striking Lamella roof, the height of which was the key to securing our London location, is the earliest known example to survive in England. The market fulfilled our dream of bringing the Dreamachine to a high street location – the closest real-world equivalent to Gysin’s vision for his invention to be a replacement for TV. 

Temple of Peace, Cardiff

In Cardiff, Dreamachine found its spiritual home in the Temple of Peace, a building ‘designed to change the world’. It was built in the wake of the First World War, designed to be a place of inspiration, actively furthering the causes of international peace. The immersive experience sat within the magnificent Art Deco civic temple on the ground floor, but the reflection area was located upstairs, in a beautiful chamber room lined floor to ceiling with mahogany bookcases – housing an archive of books and memorabilia charting global peace efforts from the 1920s, to the late 1980s. 

The space provided an incredible and poignant setting for internal reflection – with the weight of the state of the world held carefully behind its glass doors. This beautiful hidden gem in the city centre is managed by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, a charity whose vision is that everyone in Wales contributes to creating a fairer and more peaceful world. Hidden away in a University Campus, the building was an undiscovered gem for the public, and Dreamachine shone a light on its extraordinary history.

Carlisle Memorial Church, Belfast

In Belfast, we found our dream home for a secular sanctuary in the deconsecrated Carlisle Memorial Church, one of the city’s most striking buildings, serving as a gateway to North Belfast since 1875. After ceasing to be a place of worship in the 1980s, a consequence of the declining congregation and its location at a major interface between Catholic and Protestant populations, the church fell into disrepair, before a major campaign in 2008 to secure its regeneration. Listed in 2010 on the World Monuments Watch, the shell of the building was restored by the Belfast Buildings Trust, a cross-community charity who deliver physical, social, and economic regeneration through the reuse of landmark buildings in the city.

The beautifully faded interior of the building was the first space we fell in love with, and its architectural details found their way into the design language of the Dreamachine. The interior columns of the church lent their shape to our reflection space seating pods, each designed as intimate gathering spaces for 3-6 people to reflect, to listen and to share.

Murrayfield Ice Rink, Edinburgh

Murrayfield Ice Rink, our location in Edinburgh, is a listed building with an impressive history, dating back to 1938. Built during a UK boom in ice rink construction, with 27 known ice rinks opened between 1927-39, it is one of only four such examples that have survived. A mini ice hockey ‘hall of fame’, and posters dating back to the 1930s, line its glossy blue painted corridors, sealing layers of life and history into the building. 

Forced to close its doors in early 2020 due to Covid-19, Murrayfield was previously one of the world’s most popular ice rinks, providing a central hub of entertainment and events for generations of locals. The space was the only one on our tour to feature no daylight, lending an otherworldly, timeless and subterranean feel to the experience. Our largest space, the entry for our audiences was dramatic – the journey of the experience unfolding across the whole of the (defrosted) ice rink. 

Hackney Downs Studios, London

During our sellout UK tour, many of our audience asked for Dreamachine to be available permanently, as they found it offered multiple benefits to their mental health and wellbeing. Responding to this feedback, we created Studio Dreamachine, located in Hackney Downs Studios – previously an abandoned printworks and now operating as a hub of independent businesses – to trial an intimate version of the experience as part of everyday life and deeply embedded in our local community.

As part of our programme at Studio Dreamachine, we have been working with local Hackney residents and community groups to provide access to the experience for those who may benefit most: for social connection, creative practice, self reflection or relaxation.


If you would like Dreamachine to visit your city, or would like to help us shape the next phase of our journey, please get in touch.

I can see a future in which the invention becomes a fixture in major cities, rather like the IMAX cinema. Forget Van Gogh Alive, or whatever projection-based spectacle is the latest to come to town: this is immersive art in its truest, most worthwhile form.

– Isabella Smith, Apollo Magazine

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