This year, once again SDA Architects have been excited to be a part of the Autumn programme of the RIBA Architectural Ambassador Workshops. In previous years the SDA team have been involved in different iterations of the scheme including being part of the programme run in correlation with the Hull City of Culture and Fountains Abbey Folly. We couldn’t wait to be involved once again.
As part of this year’s programme SDA were partnered with a local school, Beckfoot Priestthorpe Primary School in Bingley. We were partnered with a brilliantly enthusiastic Year 01 class with an age range of 5-6 years olds, who had already prepared for our arrival by reading the book ‘Iggy Peck, Architect’ by Andrea Beaty. This provided a brilliant foundation for the development of the workshops between the Year 01 teacher, Dianne Noonan, and our Architectural Assistant, Cath. Having already visited existing buildings around Bingley, we wanted to create a workshop that would allow them to think about the lessons they can learn from the local architecture, whilst being creative and going on to create their very own versions of Bingley….
Having already visited buildings and infrastructure around the local area, including sites such as Bingley Arts and Crafts Centre, the Three Locks Canal, and the Old White pub, the first session looked at reminding the class of their route around the area, and how this journey can be drawn out and located on a map for others to see.
Following on from this, we then went on to discuss the buildings they had visited in more detail. This included looking at all the different parts of the building that are important and why, such as the roof as a cover, the windows to allow light in and ventilation, doors to provide openings and entrances, and stairs for different levels inside and outside the building. The children then went on to pick out their favourite features on these buildings and drew them in detail in preparation and reference for their model-making session in Workshop 02.
Week 02’s session was all about creativity, tasking the children with creating their very own versions of the buildings they had seen around Bingley. The children used what they had learnt in the previous workshop; needing to include certain building features, whilst being free in their ability to experiment and test ideas. In the workshop we had all sorts of creative outcomes as seen in the accompanying images, with the children looking at changing the form, scale, color and materials to develop their own versions of local buildings.
In the final workshop, we brought the series full circle with a final masterplan session to teach the pupils that we had to think about the environment in which buildings were placed. This was important in order to develop a happy environment for those who worked and lived there. Having looked at mapping the town in Workshop 01, the class worked within teams of 6 to create their own Bingley town center by connecting the model buildings they had created together.
In the final session we looked at how towns are connected; through roads, paths, cycleways, and also included large features such as the train station and canal. Then we discussed natural elements that we would include in our towns to break up all the man-made physical space. The children included open green space such as parks and fields, plants, trees, and even a river. This allowed the children to discuss what they felt would improve their environment and make it more enjoyable to live in.
During our time at the school we aimed to give the children a rounded experience of what architecture was about, teaching them to take care of their local environment, whilst take inspiration from the existing buildings to develop their own creative versions of architecture. The children not only experienced designing buildings as architects, but they also had to think about the wider contextual environment and how this aids placemaking.
We can’t praise the class and teacher, Miss Noonan, enough for their enthusiasm and creativity, and very much look forward to watching the progress of the next generation of architects.