City Builder Academy

MADE’s City Builder Academy is a free 5-day experience for 15-18 year-olds interested in architecture, planning, landscape architecture, engineering, urban design, building services, ecology and other built environment careers.

City Builder Academy aims to make sure that talented young people in the West Midlands have access to the built environment professions whatever their backgrounds:  Funded by the Ove Arup Foundation since 2013 - and also the Earnest Cook Trust and CHK Charities in 2014 - our successful academies have offered opportunities for over 100 young people from across the region to be inspired to pursue these careers

During City Builder Academy the students will undertake a design challenge as well as hear from, and work with, a variety of professionals and visit studios and development sites.

City Builder Academies aim to offer young people the following educational opportunities: 

  • Greater engagement with and understanding of their environments (homes, schools, neighbourhoods, towns, cities) encouraging further social action
  • Empowerment to see the environment is something they can affect
  • Greater appreciation of the scope of the arts and creativity, working towards Arts Award if desired
  • Increased awareness of the many built environment professions, including routes into them
  • A design challenge which simulates professional practice
  • Improved basic technical skills and knowledge relevant to design processes
  • Enhanced creative and critical thinking skills
  • Increased confidence through presentation and group work

Our July Academy had a green focus where the design challenge was to create a sustainable environment and integrate green infrastructure into the city - appealing not only to all the budding architects and urban designers out there but also those interested in a career in landscape architecture, green technology, ecology and sustainability.

Our October Academy looked at the site of the proposed HS2 Station in Birmingham on Curzon Street and came up with a temporary use for the site before the premanent development began.

Want to know more? We have answered some questions schools frequently ask below.

We already offer work experience for our students – what is different about City Builder Academy?

Many of our participants come to us in lieu of a traditional work experience week  - or as well as.

We also know that firms within the designed environment can find it hard or impossible to host traditional work experience placements due to the time commitment this involves.  As a result meaningful placements within industry can be hard to find for young people. 

City Builder Academy will allow them to explore a breadth of related but distinct careers as well as meet new people, learn new skills and increase confidence through team work and presentations.

Finally MADE’s new mentoring programme could allow them to follow up on a particular profession in a lot more detail if they are interested. In 2014/2015 we will be offering mentorships for up to 6 graduates of City Builder Academy.  Students who demonstrate a particular commitment to pursuing a career in the built environment will be able to apply for these places from Summer 2014.  Please contact Sally Robertshaw for more information about this.

Who can come to City Builder Academy?

The Academies are open to all 15-18 years olds in the West Midlands Region. 

Places are limited and students are asked to apply with support from their school.

To date students from all over the region have attended City Builder Academy:  In July 2013 students from Ninestiles, RSA Academy, St Edmunds, Holte School, Sidney Stringer Academy and Perry Beeches Academy.  Octobers 2013’s Academy took place in half-term for those dedicated students who wanted to spend their holidays getting creative and exploring future careers.   In March 2014 students from seven new schools attended including Hereford Sixth Form College, The Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School, Sir John Talbot's Technology College, Bishop Challoner, Cardinal Griffin, St Peters Collegiate and President Kennedy School.  Our most recent Summer academy in June 2014 saw students from another seven new schools in the West Midlands, these were St Augustine's Catholic High School and Sixth Form Centre, St Paul's School for Girls, Weobley High School, The Derby High School, Adams' Grammar School, Hillcrest School and Sixth Form Centre and Hall Green School.

What do students do at City Builder Academy?

All City Builder Academy is 5 days spent at MADE’s offices in central Birmingham full of talks, visits and activities. 

Students work in groups on a design challenge for a site in the city.  They visit the site, survey it, create proposals, develop them, create models, plans and drawings to explain the design then present it in groups.

Built environment professionals visit the academy and talk about their work and careers, answer questions and help with the design challenges.  These include architects, planners, transport planners, urban designers, artists, engineers and more. 

You can see examples of some of their presentations here.

Students also go on visits – for example to architecture practices to understand a day in their lives – and to buildings to understand how they are developed and designed.

Our video will hopefully give you a flavour of what goes on.

Or see the quotes on the right of this page to see what previous participants thought.

What kind of careers does City Builder Academy cover?

The built environment professions are more than just architecture.  Great places and spaces are created through multi-disciplinary teams.

Some of the careers we cover include:

Civil or structural engineering
Landscape architecture
Urban design
Building Systems
Transport Planning
Green Technology

But this is not exhaustive – for example MADE works with artists who focus on the designed environment, historians, developers, land managers, sustainability advisors, social landlords, heritage officers and more. Successful places are not made by one profession but come from creative collaboration between a variety of professionals and groups.  City Builder Academy will demonstrate the variety of rewarding professions within this field.

Some of my students are not sure what career they want to focus on – is City Builder Academy for them?

Primarily City Builder Academy is for young people who have an interest in a career in the built environment.  However we recognise that not everyone has a clear idea of what they wish to do, or importantly, are even aware of all the options available to them. 

The careers list above demonstrates the vast variety of options available to young people in the built environment.  It is not just construction, it is not just architecture – there is something for all interests and all backgrounds.

The aim of the academy is to make sure that talented young people in the West Midlands have access to the built environment professions whatever their backgrounds and so if you think it may be of interest to one of your students please consider applying.

Places are limited and applications are assessed on criteria (see below) and a statement from the students about why they wish to attend.

MADE's career pages provide a starting point for those wanting to explore what different careers entail. 

Does it cost to come to City Builder Academy?

No, thanks to funding from the Ove Arup Foundation, CHK Charities and the Earnest Cook Trust places are free.  Students will need to make their own way to our offices in central Birmingham.

How are places allocated?

Places are limited and targeted at hard to reach students.  ‘Hard to reach’ is defined as any student to which any of the following apply: in receipt of free school meals, in care, speaking English as a second language or with no history of higher education (degree level or above) in their family. Where City Builder Academy is oversubscribed we will first allocate places based on students meeting the above criteria, secondly we will consider the statement made by students and their teachers on the application form about why they wish to attend and finally we may limit places per school.

However MADE is able to offer further academies and sessions ‘in-school’ and so hope to be able to provide the City Builder Academy experience to all who are interested.  Please contact Sally Robertshawfor more information.

What if my students can't make the specific academy dates?

We will be holding more academies in the future but we are also planning to hold some shorter day or two long experiences at inspiring buildings and places acress the region. We will advertise all of these on our website but if you are interested in finding out more please contact Sally Robertshaw.

What if my students are not yet old enough to attend?

MADE hopes to expand its provision of academies to younger students soon, contact Sally Robertshaw to find out more.

When is City Builder Academy?

Please contact MADE to find out more.