(Above - some of the young people involved in the Future of Design project)

Clerkenwell Design Week celebrates the thriving design work taking place at locations in and around the Institution’s HQ in Bastwick Street, London. Included this year was a Pavilion project submitted by Scale Rule, a group of construction professionals which seeks to broaden access to built environment careers. Here Institution members Phillip Isaac and Laura Hannigan tell us all about the project.

(Above: The completed Future of Design Pavilion in St James' Churchyard, Clerkenwell)

We are thrilled to see the Pavilion standing in the gardens as part of Clerkenwell Design Week. This is the first time the event has featured a project designed by GCSE students, and it’s been a really rewarding process making it a reality, from first contacting schools in November, through the workshops in February half term, to today’s unveiling. It’s been hard work but worth every moment.

Initially we contacted nine London Schools, inviting them to participate in workshops focused on experiential learning, with a brief to design a pavilion and reinvigorate a public space in Clerkenwell. We had around 35 students give up their spare time to take part, which was held at AKTII’s nearby offices, and their enthusiasm and creativity was apparent right from the start. We were really pleased to see about a 50/50 split of girls and boys taking part, which was reflected in the representation from Scale Rule.

Seminars on architecture, engineering, drawing and construction aimed to provide the students with an insight into our professions, along with a crash course in each topic. We talked to them about basic engineering principles like tension and compression, using London examples like the London Eye, St Paul’s and the Cheesegrater. Then we set them to work in teams, briefing them to think about factors like how light would fall on the pavilion, who would use it and how, and how to ensure that it was stable.

(Above: Students in a Future of Design workshop)

What really delighted us was the huge range of designs we received and the incredible creativity the students showed. One team proposed rainwater harvesting to be built into the design; another had a design for paving based on “Tetris”! A team of judges offered a brief critique to each of the teams, providing them with feedback from leading lights in London built environment professions.

It’s incredibly rewarding to work on a project like this: we love what we do and we’re passionate about sharing that enthusiasm with young people who might not ordinarily get this kind of exposure to engineering. The great thing about our Future of Design project is that it gives the young people a really direct approach, where they know their design has a chance of being built. It’s been hard work pushing it through, but now that it’s here it’s all worth it.

Engineering still suffers from a lack of understanding, and we believe this kind of face-to-face interaction with actual engineers is the best way to inspire more young people into engineering careers. That’s why we’re making all our lecture notes freely available online: we’d encourage any professionals around the UK and abroad to consider rolling out similar projects: it really is a wonderful experience.

We’d like to hank Hanson Plywood Limited, who generously donated all the material for the Pavilion, our judges, support from AKTII and our colleagues at Grimshaw Architects, Clerkenwell Design Week, and finally all the students who took part – you should all be very proud of what you’ve achieved, showcasing your work among exhibits from London’s most cutting edge design studios. We loved working with you!
The schools that took part:

Lister Community School
City Academy Hackney
Saint Aloysius College
Lilian Baylis Technology School
Haverstock School
Hornsey School for Girls
Christ’s School
Heartlands High School
Highbury Grove School

Read the complete Future of Design brochure here. Read about Scale Rule here.

(Below: The Scale Rule team behind the project)

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