RIBA Architecture Ambassadors in action
In April SGP’s own RIBA Architecture Ambassadors, Nita and Fiona, gave Year 5 children at Sparkenhoe Community Primary School in Leicester a hands on taster of architecture design. In a workshop focusing on “the space around us”, teams of children were asked to design one of various public buildings, including fire and police stations, a hospital or a library.
Explains Nita: “Fiona and I had a meeting with the teachers to come up with ideas that would work with the school’s curriculum. Initially we were looking at the space outside, linking with the school children’s recent visit to the National Space Centre, and designing how to live on a rocket. In the end, we all preferred to look at more definite views of the space around us and how it works for us.”
Nita and Fiona started the workshop by showing the pupils some of their own architectural drawings, and, in groups, looking at how to take a design from a brief to construction. The children then had 20 minutes to design their building, before using the rest of the two hour workshop to make a model out of materials such as plastic bottles, toilet rolls and cardboard.
Despite having the workshop on the last afternoon before half term, Nita and Fiona were impressed by the enthusiasm and skill of the children. “In future workshops, we would like to tweak the timing slightly, to allow some time at the end for each of the groups to talk about their model and why they chose to design it as they had. Next time, we might even try to include a presentation to the parents, so the kids can show off their modelling abilities.”
“It was such a personal achievement for both of us. I’d never taught smaller children, and their energy was infectious. They asked such good questions, about why we chose architecture as a profession and what were our inspirations. It was a privilege to do something to show young people that anything is possible, especially a career in architecture or the construction industry.”
Nita already has plans for next year and has RIBA’s permission to contact a couple more local schools to see if they would be interested in having a similar workshop.
Concludes Nita: “Ideally, I’d not only like to do more directly with children in schools, but also become a RIBA Champion and mentor other architects in becoming Architecture Ambassadors. It’s so important to get young children engaged and excited about the possibilities, and being an Ambassador makes a real contribution to achieving that.”
Architecture Ambassadors is part of the RIBA’s National School Programme which inspires the next generation to engage with architecture and develop new confidence to talk about and explore the built environment. The programme works with different cities across England on a rotating basis, with architects, architectural assistants and students volunteering their time to deliver free workshops in primary, secondary and SEND schools.