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RIBA Ambassadors Workshop at Phoenix School \

After a series of successful RIBA Ambassadors projects partnering with different schools around London, Hawkins\Brown were invited to Phoenix School in Tower Hamlets, a school for children with Special Educational Needs.

The theme of ‘Postmodernism’ tied into exhibition at the RIBA that the students visited; we created a series of workshops to allow the students to explore this theme further through, using their own personal creative process, re-imagining new versions of architectural elements, leading to creating a combined 3D piece to be displayed at the school.

We were conscious to not provide any defined set of rules within the workshops; instead, we aimed to give the students the right set of tools and media to express their creativity, tailoring each session week-by-week in response to the work they created.  By focusing on creating continuity between the different workshops we ensured the students work informed the sessions, without enforcing a particular outcome on the project.

Workshop 1: Understanding and drawing

After the students had visited the ‘Circling the Square’ exhibition at the RIBA, we asked a variety of questions with the aim to open an initial discussion on a variety of architectural styles and elements. The students were encouraged to explore many building types, forms, elements, materials and functions. The students were then instructed to trace and sketch on top of images of buildings, focusing their attention on their favourite architectural details, and then reimagining these elements, patterns and textures. There were many unexpected and fantastic results.

Workshop 2: Reimagining

Creating a link with Workshop 1, we used the students sketches to create their own new 2D elements at varying scales, and used their drawings to create beautiful patterns.  During the second session, the students enjoyed creating their own re-design of architecture elements.  The students were able to explore colour, form, texture and materials to form their own elements.

Workshop 3: Assembling

During the first two workshops we aimed to give the students the opportunity to express their own personal creativity.  With the third workshop we wanted to bring together a collaborative piece of architecture, which would host all their new architectural elements. The students built together a 3D structure supported by colourful columns and decorated with their patterns, elements and re-imagined details.  Each element reflected the individual students’ work, but by using a limited palette of materials and colours they created a cohesive and collaborative 3D work.

From a simple sketch to a piece of art

We wanted the students to remember their creative experience and their new architectural masterpieces.  At the end of the the third workshop, the students were presented with a laser etching of their initial sketches into a piece of plywood to share with family, guardians and friends, as a memory of their experience.

We would like to thank Phoenix School for this fantastic opportunity; we are proud of the great collaborative outcome achieved throughout the three workshops! A big thank you also to Fiona Mc Donald at the RIBA for the great work done with RIBA Architecture Ambassadors, and we look forward to working on future projects together.

“A massive heartfelt thanks once again to you...  The workshops were so successful for the students and it's so great when we have professionals who come in and really work with the students rather than try and impose their idea of the outcomes. Also the laser drawings were such a lovely reminder of the event and especially for our leavers.”

Amanda Benson Head of Art, Phoenix School

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