Summer Learning and Adult Training
Opportunities in Design & The
For tomorrow’s designers, planners,
architects, engineers and community leaders.
This Briefing Paper promotes the use of Summer School projects
for young learners who will become the designers, planners, architects,
engineers and community leaders of tomorrow. The Briefing Paper
illustrates two examples of work in line with these national
educational developments. Our work in this area recognises that
opportunities for extra-curricular, after-school and holiday-learning
can enhance and enrich school-learning in ways beyond those available
in the day-to-day work of schools. Our work also recognises the
need for adult training in activities that can provide these
The content of this Briefing Paper is based upon the work of
Building Experiences in developing a successful week-long course
for The Tower Hamlets Summer University, and acting as Adult-Trainer
for a 3-day course for teachers and architects. The latter was
the result of a Royal Society / British Association Millennium
Tower Hamlets Summer University - building aspiration.
The Tower Hamlets Summer University has a deserved, national reputation
for being at the forefront in promoting and providing quality opportunities
for learning to young people aged 14-25. Building Experiences has
worked extensively in Tower Hamlets over the past 2 ½ years,
where it has carried out extensive programmes of workshops and
projects, working with well over 2500 schoolchildren and their
teachers. Building Experiences was invited submit a proposal in
design and the built environment to offer as a learning opportunity
in the context of The Summer University’s aims:
To promote independent learning
To raise achievement
To promote racial tolerance
To increase access to educational and vocational opportunities
through creative partnerships with the statutory and voluntary
sectors, business and industry
To involve young people in the organisation’s development
Changing Buildings – Designs for The Future
The Summer University Course gave the participants an opportunity
to work as a group to arrive at the possible use and designs for
a derelict building in The Borough. Their work was represented
in 2D and 3D forms and focussed on a large-scale model for the
building. The framework for the model was especially designed and
created to enhance and promote individual and group effort. The
management of the learning process was designed with similar intentions.
The approach to the management of learning can be summarised quite
simply by, "the sum of the parts is greater than the whole".
The aims of The Tower Hamlets Summer University fit well with
the purpose of Building Experiences that has as a core concern
the need to create and provide opportunities for young people to
enact principles of citizenship through the involvement in our
surroundings. We believe this is an important ingredient in the
preparation for adult life.
The more opportunities there are for young people to engage with
others on matters to do with the built environment, then the greater
is the likelihood that our educational systems can turn out adults
who have both the confidence, interest and desire to become involved
in their communities at a local level.
The potential of our surroundings – our built environment – to
act as a vehicle for active citizenship is enormous.
The week-long course introduced the students to principles, ideas
and materials related to sustainable communities and buildings – especially
those undergoing renovation. A visit to Construction Resources
- a large collection of materials, and equipment housed in a building
south of The Thames in SE1 - gave the students a good idea of a
selection of sustainable materials and their application. The experience
of the visit helped sow the seeds that, in changing our surroundings,
we don’t always have to look to the past. Engaging young
talent and exposing them to new ideas is part of the management
of any learning process, the object of which is to expand the imagination
and to build aspiration.
A Model for Community Participation
In seeking to forward its work, Building Experiences has the following
as one of its objectives,
To ensure that these opportunities are designed, implemented and
managed in a fashion which results in sustainable growth and development
for the groups / individuals / organisations / networks with whom
In the case of Changing Buildings - Designs for The Future,
Building Experiences was able to link up with members of The Society
of Black Architects, who supported the course throughout the week.
Chris Nasah of KNAK Designs and a leading figure for SOBA, summarised,
the general feeling amongst his colleagues as follows:
“SOBA members really enjoyed taking part in this Summer
University and we feel it is the sort of thing we would want
to become more involved with in the future. The content and the
management of the learning process by Building Experiences, working
with a wide range of interests and abilities, afforded opportunities
for all to grow and learn through the week. A measure of its
success was highlighted for me, when unsolicited, one of the
youngest participants phoned my practice the week after requesting
a ‘work experience’ opportunity prior to his return
to school in September. We naturally obliged. The model for participation
designed by Building Experiences offers an excellent approach
for building aspirations and engaging our next generation of
would-be designers, architects and engineers. It is also a valid
approach for community capacity building and general public participation.”
I really enjoyed this course as it furthered my knowledge
of my favourite interest – architecture. It also gave
me an opportunity to understand further some of the fundamental
rules of economics. The course has been informative, and has
made a big impression on me as a person. It gave me reasons
to appreciate London and the opportunities within it. I’ve
made new friends and gained new experiences.
The course leader was a good mentor and the architects showed
me a lot about the profession.
Morgan Derrick Mia, aged 14
What I got from taking part was:
Developing further skills in the design process
Working as a team
Communicating and compromising on design ideas
Learning about sustainable materials
Meeting new people
Contact with SOBA
Bao Luong, Art Student aged 20
Before the course I thought that I was a patient person
who took care about the wishes and feelings of people for whom
I am going to design or plan buildings and objects for. However,
now I have the feeling that I have become far more patient and
am more aware about the feelings and the ways of working with
people of other ages and with different knowledge.
Kim Wang, Student of Architecture aged 25
Adult Training for Extra-Curricular,
After-School and Holiday Learning
The response, over the past 2½ years, to our work in Tower
Hamlets has been very positive. We have worked in the majority
of its primary and secondary schools, linking closely with its
Education Business Partnership. Our Schools Workshop Programme,
together with specific projects with some schools, have been enjoyed
and experienced by some 3,000 children embracing all Key Stages.
This response from teachers, their children and students, together
with the attraction of a Millennium Award from The Royal Society
/ British Association provided the opportunity to design and implement
an Adult Training Programme based upon the workshop approaches.
The simple idea has been, that the kind of activities we carry
out fit well with curriculum enrichment and out-of-school learning
approaches, so why not place them in the hands of those who manage
and implement on a day-to-day basis, at the local level?
Participants would end up with a series of Workshop Activities,
together with materials and resources to develop their own practice,
once trained in their use and applications.
During the Summer Term of 1999, Building Experiences circulated
schools in The London Borough of Tower Hamlets through the offices
of the Education Business Partnership. At the same time we also
approached the Society of Black Architects through its networks,
to seek their participation in the initiative. The combination
of teacher and other professional working together helped to enhance
the whole learning process, as well as provide the basis for further
connection and networking.
During the Autumn Term of 1999, and on 3 separate days, 3 teachers
and 3 architects took part in training sessions at St Katherine’s
Foundation, Limehouse. During these sessions the participants received
training and exposure to approaches to teaching and learning through
built environment activities. Each participant will develop out-of-hours
learning opportunities using the materials and activities.
Quite briefly, The Adult Training Programme gave the participants
an opportunity to explore and examine a number of Workshops. Just
as importantly, in terms of time and energy they were able to leave
with ready-made and available materials and resources to add to
their repertoire of ‘exciting, stimulating and challenging
things that can be done’ with children, students.
The Training Programme included the following themes and Workshops:
Building Large Structures: Giant Tetrahedra, Bridges,
and Millennium Dome
Making Models and Floor Design Layouts: Renovate,
Design a Community Centre
Sustainable Communities and Building Materials: Housing
The Training Programme recognised the need for adults working
towards the kind of approach in the provision of out-of-hours learning,
to realise that they are not doing so in isolation. During the
Programme there were inputs from the Education Business Partnership
and Education Extra. Both of these inputs proved to be extremely
valuable and have led to subsequent developments for the participants.
Similarly, the Society of Black Architects –SOBA- have been
able to progress their work in London through connections made
in Tower Hamlets.
The training programme is wonderful for creating contacts
e.g. I am hoping to get someone from SOBA to come to school,
either to support 1 or 2 individual pupils’ career choices,
or as in input in to the Career’s Curriculum, as well
as more long-term starting points to projects. I have decided
to actively extend the extra-curricular aspect of my work – hopefully
with the school’s support.
Julia Kent, Morpeth School
I found the Workshop activities stimulating and the training
has given me lots of ideas for future activities and cross-curricular
links at my school. I think I would like to train other people
at the school to do the same. The course leader has filled
me with an enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. The training was
clearly structured and I could keep track of what I was learning
and make notes. The choice of venue was perfect, a calm oasis
in the city. Brilliant.
Mark Brown, Langdon Park School
My motivation for attending the Training Programme was to
develop a programme of Design & Technology activities for
after-school clubs. I’ve found it extremely useful and
stimulating. I feel that I will be able to develop activities
that I can use. In addition the ethos and working methodology
of the training has served to reinforce some basic principle
of teaching and learning which can be so easily lost. Brilliant.
Sarah Covenay, Oaklands School
The mix between architects and teachers was important. We
were able to build upon each other’s experiences, and
therefore work as a multi-disciplinary team with complimentary
roles. This combination applied for children will enable them
to learn from different perspectives. The comments from Education
Extra regarding efficient use of resources where there are
overlaps between the objectives and aspirations of organisations
is important in developing networks and working relationships.
The Education Business Partnership in any area could play an
important role, as the link between schools and potential support
from industry and the business community.
So far in its work, The Society of Black Architects has
been influenced by our desire to act as facilitators in getting
students to design and improve their physical environment.
The experiences from this initiative give us the scope to consider
a new dimension to our objectives.
Ibi Ekineh, Society of Black Architects
An overview of the 3 –day
programme and expectations
Building Large Structures – some
Applications and Illustrations
of Workshops approaches: including; self-monitoring and evaluation,
identifying and managing the learning process.
Learning outcomes for pupils
Evaluation of session – outcomes
Renovation – A Workshop
of 3 D model-making of a 5 Storey-building
Floor Design Layout - a
Applications of this Workshop,
including managing a longer-term project.
Evaluation of session – outcomes
Sustainable Communities. The
Application of key ideas to 2 Workshops:
A Housing Design Layout & Design
A Community Centre
How might this approach be
used and developed?
Evaluation of session – outcomes
Some philosophy related to
The Role of Tower Hamlets Education
Business Partnership - Glennis Copplestone
Making Creative Structures – a
The Role of Education Extra – Mark
Evaluation of session – outcomes
Art & The Built Environment – using
the School environment - & Imagine. Two Workshops
experienced and their applications explored.
How might this approach be used
Evaluation of session – outcomes
The Millennium Dome – a
celebratory group exercise preceding the distribution of
Plenary under the Dome and final
The initiative ended up with 3 teachers and
3 architects who worked together for the duration of the Training
Programme, and who have built a mutually supportive network amongst
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