RIBA Ambassadors Workshop at Medlock Primary School\

Following the success of previous workshops we have run with the RIBA Architecture Ambassadors programme in London, we were invited to Medlock Primary School in Manchester to do a series of workshops for Year Two pupils; one of the first in the North-West.

The workshops aimed to introduce the pupils to thinking about cities, what goes into them, and what it’s like to be an architect.

Week One

In the first week we introduced the pupils to the role of the architect and the process of designing and constructing buildings. We explained what we think about when we are designing buildings from clients and briefs, to site analysis and materiality. We revealed the different ways in which we communicate ideas from sketches, models to detailed CAD drawings. Finally we explained how the ideas become a reality; from the technical drawings we produce to on-site roles. Then the pupils were able to get hands-on with some of our drawings, models and material samples. Drawing over and modifying them to communicate their own ideas.

Week Two

In the second week we introduced some of the features that make up a city from landmarks to public spaces. We showed examples from all over the world and related them back to what they look like in Manchester. Divided into groups, the pupils were then asked to draw their own imagined city using the features that we had discussed and some of their own! Presenting their plans back to the class, we were met with inventive, colourful and thoughtful designs for cities that included underground train systems, homeless shelters and an all-important ice cream stand.

Week Three

In the third week we introduced different building types and discussed where they might be found in a city, how they look different from each other and why. The pupils then were each given a model of a building to make that fits into one of the typologies and asked to design the elevations. Having been given a simple paper model and pens the pupils brought these buildings to life with creative and considered ideas.

Week Four

Having learnt about the features that make up a city and having designed and perfected their own building, we used the school hall to create our own Medlock City. The pupils used the experience from previous workshops to masterplan their city, thinking about how people use and feel in the built environment. The pupils instinctively placed their designs within the city, creating a heart shaped public space in the centre surrounded by shops, a civic heart, and variety of residential areas. We then began to draw into the spaces between the buildings, creating green spaces, lakes and football pitches, to name a few. With careful thought and some innovative ideas our Medlock City began to appear, and we were inspired by the passion and freedom the pupils brought to the exercise.

We look forward to having the opportunity to participate in future workshops and are proud to have RIBA Ambassadors in the Manchester studio. We would like to thanks the teachers and pupils at Medlock School as well as Fiona MacDonald and Hannah Gaunt for their support and dedication to the programme.

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