City Builders Academy first week success

Author: Pooja Raj

MADE held its sixth City Builders Academy in July 2016 attended by 18 young people from across the West Midlands region, we welcomed students from Ninestiles School and Academy, Archbishop llsley Catholic School, Dormston School, St Pauls School for Girls, The Phoenix Collegiate, Bishop Challoner Catholic College and Shrewsbury 6th Form College and more. 

Over the week we had a number of speakers come in to speak to the students, including Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners, Urban Designers and Acoustic Engineers. All of our speakers helped the students understand the range of professions related to the built 
environment, routes into them, the challenges, their typical days and more. 

The students got started with a density exercise, this exercise helped the students to understand urban form, development economics and scale. After this the students learnt about the basic principles of good design which they would be asked to apply to their design challenge.  They also learnt about the basic visual representation techniques which was a skill they needed in order to represent their ideas, including model making. Learning about sustainability was really easy for the students as they had some really good ideas of what was needed for a sustainable building and within the groups the students embedded sustainable solutions in their final designs. 

One of the hardest things to explain to the students is often the concept of concepts.  We encouraged them to look at the bigger picture and use a concept to help them respond to opportunities and constraints within the site.  However, this group surprised us they grasped this well and every group developed strong concepts and used it as framework to help them make decisions about their designs.

Not only did the students receive a number of talks and information regarding built environment professions they also got the opportunity to go up to Glenn Howells Architects office where they got to see an architects practice in action. Many students had interesting questions to ask and they were extremely surprised to discover the different responsibilities everyone had and how they linked to each other.

The students then got given a design brief to work from, they had to design three spaces around Digbeth including a a public space.They could of created buildings or open space or museums, anything they wanted however, it needed to have a concept and be sustainable and be for the better good of Digbeth. They had to think about transport and access as there are proposed tram line extensions and access to the new HS2 station in this area.

They then created presentations to present infront of our expert panel, they had to work in groups and come up with a design of Digbeth and they had to explain their design in depth and also created 3D Models to support their designs. All four teams worked well together and they communicated with one another constantly to ensure they got all the information and models created in time for the presentations. 

We asked the students to think about many things and some of these things were, density, height, massing, urban forms, public realm, visibility, access, transport, visual appearance and materials. There were many more things however all of the groups managed to keep everything in mind when creating their designs and 3D models. 

The judging panel was made up of Joe Holyoak, Architect and Urban Designer, Steve Fancourt, Rural Landscape Manager for HS2 Ltd and Mark Lever, Transport Planner for JMP Consultants Ltd.  The judges asked many questions about their designs, gave feedback and constructive criticism. Overall the judges were very impressed by the proposals, their representation and the presentations. They were all well thought through and they had a good amount of information, We were proud of every individual in all of the groups. 

MADE was extremely pleased with all the students who took part in our Academy and wish them every success as they take then next steps.

We would like to thank all of our professional speakers, judges and the amazing volunteers - Patricia Gomez, Dorthe Riss Jones, Jess Glover and Elise Houdijk who gave up their time to coach the students throughout the week.

Below are some pictures taken throughout the first week of City Builders Academy