The Big Draw: Re-Imagining Stratford\

This month Hawkins\Brown has been taking part in The Big Draw Festival, an educational charity event promoting drawing as an important tool for communication and learning, celebrating the ‘universal language of drawing’.

This year the festival theme is ‘STEAM Powered’, inserting Art into the STEM subjects Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and highlighting the value of creativity in innovation and industry.

As architects we practice in an increasingly digital world. Yet most of our earliest designs and ideas are portrayed through hand, as a quick and genuine tool. We wanted to show school children that the act of sketching ideas in our profession is the start of a hybrid process using digital platforms, that culminates in the final constructed building.

In line with the theme for the Big Draw this year, our interpretation of how the A in STEAM could be re-imagined was inspired by a collaboration between both our Analogue and Digital Studios. Our skills and interests call on all of the STEAM subjects and we wanted to showcase an example of how these work together.

Through our schools engagement programme, we collaborated with School 21 in Stratford to set up live digital links to share 10 minute drawings between ourselves in response to the same question: What will Stratford look like in 50 years?

“For us, the event was about encouraging children and proving that drawing can be such a powerful tool in our design profession. But actually, I think we learnt just as much from them about imagination through their great drawings.”

Analogue Studio Hawkins\Brown

The drawings were produced alongside engaging and lively group discussions whilst watching the architects’ drawings emerge on the projection. Some of the key ideas from the discussions included:

  • To expand Stratford Station to allow more people visit the area, particularly for a new Stratford Carnival that celebrates the diversity of the area.
  • To demolish Westfield to make way for an airport for all of the drones, hover boards etc. that will need parking space.
  • To expand the park and to plant more trees, particularly as the roads will be less congested and take up less space with the increase in mid-air traffic.
  • To make all buildings surfaces for art, patterns, colour and expression.

“I loved how we had to draw and expand our minds”

Cameron Year 9 pupil, School 21

As the workshop was part of the English class, we also reflected on the similarities between ‘free writing’ and drawing, where there are no rules or boundaries to express ideas. As part of the learning objectives, we also explored the notion that drawing is an important universal language, which can help to explain something in your imagination,  much like the process architects use drawings to explain ideas, spaces and buildings before they are built in 3D. This was a great opportunity to further our work with School 21, who we were introduced to as part of the RIBA Architecture Ambassadors programme.

“It was really creative and I really liked when we did the drawings because we got to imagine what our home town will be in 50 years!”

Rochelle Year 9 Pupil, School 21

“It was a really exciting and engaging experience. It was brilliant for the students to have the chance to meet a group of real architects who are currently changing the face of our local area, Stratford! As students who are not very confident with their drawing, they felt really freed up to draw whatever they wanted and in whatever way they wanted. It was amazing to see their work being influenced by the conversations, presentations and architect's drawings as the session went on. The first question I had the next lesson was 'Miss - are we drawing today?!' Brilliant! It was so fun. ”

Jess Hughes English Teacher, School 21

Many thanks to Jess Hughes and her Year 9 class at School 21. We hope you’re looking forward to our digital creation!

Click here to read the second part of our involvement with The Big Draw at School 21.

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