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Studio North RIBA Schools Ambassadors \

Studio North approached the New Islington Free School to do a series of workshops with Year 5 pupils, challenging them to question the built environment around them.

Week 1

We introduced ‘the architect’ and asked the pupils what they thought the role of an architect was. They were amazed to discover that the process of designing a building involved far more people than just architects. We explained the key people involved to bring a design to site. We looked at how our ideas are communicated; from early conceptual massing models and sketches to CAD drawings and BIM models. Bringing samples from the office, the pupils had to work out what the materials were for and where they would go on a building. Finally, the pupils were asked to question their journey to school over the following week; the thresholds, the transport, the distances.

Week 2

The pupils drew a representation of their route to school, highlighting the key moments. We drew out our own examples of a journey to work and highlighted the key features we encounter; major roads, gates, parks, the local shop, asking the children the best and worst part of their journeys. The session concluded by asking the pupils what the essential, non-essential and leisure elements are that make up a city, with the class again questioning and challenging what should be considered essential rather than merely decorative.

Week 3

In the final week, we introduced city typologies showing examples of city patterns and natural boundaries, discussing how cities are shaped and organised. The pupils were asked to zone their imagined city onto maps with various natural and urban boundaries. Following on from this, the class made massing models of their imagined buildings, with innovative and unconventional designs; including arenas, ice cream vans and a myriad of bridges, train stations and parks. The children filled their imaginary cities with carefully considered spaces and buildings, creating neighbourhoods with amenities in close proximity – although there were plenty of grander concepts, including a city with twenty-seven football stadiums, fifteen KFCs and three train stations. The pupils challenged the way we think about the spaces around us.

“I know that they will all take something lasting from your sessions and perhaps it has even inspired a few to develop a new found interest in the buildings around them.”

Tabitha Smith Headteacher, New Islington Free School

We are proud to be involved with the RIBA Ambassadors National Schools Programme and partner with New Islington Free School. Studio North would like to thank Year 5, their wonderful teacher Mr. Cummings and headteacher Tabitha Smith for welcoming us to their school and sharing their brilliant ideas. We would also like to thank Katy Wade for her support, advice and dedication to the RIBA Ambassadors Programme.

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