Architecture students open young people’s eyes to good design

18 November 2010

UCL’s cloisters hosted 33 students from a wide range of London secondary schools in the last week of October for a three-day workshop in planning and urban design.

Young planners' workshop

The event was part of an educational programme organised by Ros Croker, Chloe McCarthy, Magda Novoa and Fiona MacDonald from Open-City, whose mission is to make architecture accessible through creative and innovative programmes that open up its potential for teachers, pupils and professionals in the field.

UCL offered an inspirational location for the workshop, which gave the young people a chance to see architecturally significant buildings and a bustling university campus to encourage their future aspirations. The students explored the Bloomsbury public realm, took part in a creative design challenge and made a short film featuring their ideas and suggestions to show to their local councillors and decision-makers.

This year UCL and Open-City have collaborated on an extension to Open-City’s major educational programme for primary schools, ‘Architecture in Schools: Primary’, which brings together architecture students, Open-City’s educators and renowned London-based architectural practices to inspire and unlock architecture for 1,000 primary school pupils every year.

During this programme, pupils from each school are taken for a ‘behind the scenes’ exploration of exemplary architecture as a catalyst to producing their own responses to a design brief, and attend an in-school workshop with a partner student, architect and Open-City educator.

UCL and Open-City collaborated on an extension to this programme to enrich the experiences of both the Bartlett students and the primary pupils. A number of Bartlett students took up the opportunity to be partnered with classes across London over the past academic year, to develop their skills for working with the next generation, who will ultimately inherit the effects of their design decisions.

Mark Martines, a current fourth-year student, and second years Kate Slattery and Patrick O’Callaghan were among the Bartlett students who took part. Mark explained: “It’s been very helpful for our own development to communicate architectural ideas at various levels: inspiring young people and in turn being inspired by their mad and fresh ideas.” The Bartlett students themselves also benefited from networking opportunities, building links with leading London architecture practices.

The programme culminated in a competition among 50 primary schools across London to devise a sustainable school design. Pupils from Weston Park Primary School came top out of 250 entries, and the Bartlett students will now run a bespoke intergenerational workshop with the pupils to develop their designs further.

Frosso Pimenides, Director of Year 1 BSc Architecture at the UCL Bartlett, and judge of the competition, said: “I am delighted that my students have the opportunity to work with such inquisitive minds. We invited these winning pupils to the Bartlett as we were struck by how powerful, delicate and environmentally responsive their school design was. We are very excited to be developing the partnership further.”

If you would like to find out more about getting involved in Open-City programmes, contact Fiona MacDonald, Education Projects Assistant.

Image: Young planners’ workshop at UCL, part of the Open-City initiative ‘My City Too’



UCL context

The Bartlett School of Architecture is part of a truly multidisciplinary Faculty of the Built Environment in world-class UCL. It is located at the heart of the world’s largest cluster of innovative architecture and engineering firms in London. It attracts an extraordinary variety of staff, students and international visitors, all of the highest calibre.

Bartlett tutors are at the forefront of international research and teaching, encompassing interdisciplinary collaboration and methodologies. Bartlett students are amongst the most sought after in the UK and Europe for their outstanding drive, creativity and skills.