Thursday, 20 July 2017

Shape My City Session Five: Going on site at the YMCA

This blog post was written by Programme Assistant Lottie Morris.

For this month’s Shape My City session, the group had the opportunity to get out and about on a site visit of the new city centre YMCA hostel development, currently under construction and due for completion in November 2017.

The group were joined by Ben, Director of YMCA (who run The Kitchen at The Station Youth Hub), Matt and James from Ferguson Mann Architects (Project Architects) and Site Manager, Paul from John Perkins Construction. It was a great opportunity for the young people to learn about the project and understand more about the  relationship between the client, the architects and the construction team.

Ben spoke first, introducing the exciting YMCA development to the group; the hostel will be housed in the in the Old Police Station building on Bridewell Street. It will primarily be dormitory shared private accommodation, with the top floor providing longer term beds for homeless and vulnerable young people in the city. With the building being listed, the refurbishment aims to preserve some of the building’s architectural and social history including the vintage caged lift, which will be fully functional, a mix of terrazzo and parquet flooring and orginal artwork from when the building hosued the Invivsble Circus artist collective.

Paul the site manager of the project, spoke next. He explained that he oversees all work on the site, sorting any problems and working with the client and architects, praising the relationship between them. He has worked as a site manager for John Perkins Construction for 15 years on many successful projects, saying the most rewarding had been the 4 phase rebuilding of St Bonaventure’s Primary School in Bishopston, Bristol.

Matt, Senior Architect at Ferguson Mann then spoke, qualifying in 2001; he said he was still considered a ‘young’ architect. He spoke about many different projects and explained that to him architecture isn’t all about grand buildings; it’s about the people that benefit from well designed spaces, as well as the great relationships with clients like YMCA, that’s what makes the job rewarding, speaking truthfully of the lows, he said you can sometimes get pigeon holed in Architecture and it’s important to get outside of the office on site and see buildings physically take shape.

James, Architectural Assistant at Fergusson Mann completed his MArch at UWE in 2016; he spoke of the importance of getting as much experience as you can in Architecture and the enjoyment of being hands-on with projects. Both he and Matt said you don’t have to know it all; it’s a learning process and great to get involved with projects like Shape My City, which inspire the enxt generation of designers. Advice from both James and Matt to the young people was to make sure you study something that you’re passionate about; many different subjects/routes can lead to Architecture, whether it be Art, Maths, Economics or History.

After hearing about the background to the YMCA project and the different roles involved in making it happen, the participants got a tour of the site - complete with with hard hats and high vis jackets! Through the tour, the group learned about the new elements being added, as well as what is being preserved, including bullet proof doors on what was the police gun room!

It was such a great opportunity for the participants to see a real-life project in progress and meet the all the professionals directly involved. This was another great Shape My City session, the last before the summer holidays. Special thanks to YMCA Bristol, Ferguson Mann Architects and John Perkins Construction for making it possible.

Read more about the project John Perkins website.

Shape My City Session Four: Engineering with BuroHappold

The Shape My City group were joined on the 8th of June by Peter and Hannah from BuroHappold Engineering, this month’s session focused on Structural Engineering. For the warm-up activity participants got into groups and had the challenge of making a bridge from 50 sticks of spaghetti and 25 marshmallows! The groups had to carefully consider the structure and how they could make their bridge span a width of 10cm and be strong enough to hold the load of glue stick, a tricky challenge, but one group was successful! With the group already thinking about how to create stable structures, it was time to hear to Peter and Hannah talk about their jobs as engineers at BuroHappold.

Peter spoke first; he is a Graduate Structural Engineer. He described it as the job that puts the skeleton into the building/bridge/vehicle (it's not jsut buildings which are structures), after Architects have designed it. Important points to consider are calculating loads the structure would carry e.g. people standing on it, making sure it is stable, strong and deciding sizes and materials. Considering environment and safety factors (e.g. accounting for 1 ½ humans) are also important to make structures safe and usable.
Pete studied Maths, Graphic Communication, Physics and Chemistry for A-levels before studying Civil Engineering with Architecture in Glasgow. He now works at BuroHappold following a  scholarship. A typical day for Pete includes team meetings, modeling designs, and setting digital analysis models to run. The highs of the job for him are working with a great team, constant new inspiration, and satisfaction of seeing your work progress and be built. Peter said there weren’t many negatives, only occasional staying late at work to complete deadlines, but that happens with many jobs.

Hannah spoke next; she is a Graduate Engineer working in the Security and Technology Team at BuroHappold, and she is currently working on the Tottenham football stadium. Her job is very varied. It could involve designing street furniture, researching technology, considering IT storage, mobile signal, Wi-Fi and cameras, a huge part of designing a stadium. Many things have to be considered, including future technological developments, how much space cables take up, future capacity and maintenance. Tottenham is currently at stage 4 in the design process, and the constant architectural changes sometimes make it challenging for the IT Infrastructure, but it's also really exciting. Hannah studied Maths, Design Technology, Business and IT at A level. She went on to study Product Design Engineering at university, originally applying to be part of the sustainability team at BuroHappold, she found herself n the IT Infrastructure team, which she finds really interesting and enjoyable.

In terms of advice for their younger selves, Hannah and Peter said:
  •  it's important to always go for something that you enjoy
  • it’s never too late to change your career
  • decisions don’t have to be final so go for something you are passionate about
  • getting involved in extracurricular activities (like Shape My City!) is great for your CV and university applications.
After lots of listening, it was time for the Shape My City participants to work on their own design brief, where they had to come up with a concept design for Everton’s new stadium in Liverpool. Things they had to to consider included:
  • Which site? Godison Park, Walton Hall Park or Bramley Moore Docks?
  • What are the pros and cons of each site option? (looking at photos)
  • How can you make sure the stadium accommodates the client’s requirements?
  • How will the stadium be orientated? What shape will it be? 
  • What type of roof is most appropriate?
  • What would you like to experience as a fan?
  • Is your stadium environmentally friendly?

The three groups came up with interesting and varied ideas for the stadium.
  • Group one’s stadium aimed to also hold music concerts to keep the stadium used all year round, include large screens for maximum audience viewing, a pathway with see-through glass to water below, digital seats in the screen, Wi-Fi, a merchandise shop and a focus on community engagement.

  • Group two had a stadium with a movebale roof, which resposnded to the weather, an option to fold down seats so the stadium could also become a velodrome, a digital view for fan’s to see player’s walking out onto the pitch, Wi-Fi throughout, restaurants and a clock tower entrance, which referenced the heitage of the loca area.
  • Group three designed a train station, underground passage, a tunnel that fans could walk through to enhance their audeince experience, shops, an outside TV with sound, and an exclusive peek at the players if they walk round to the back of the stadium.

Peter and Hannah were very impressed with the designs, saying the participants had considered many aspects including how to use the stadium not only for football matches, extra revenue opportunities and ways to enhance the fan’s experience, all along with some interesting structure designs. All the groups also chose the Bramley Moore Docks site, which is the proposed location for the actual new stadium in Liverpool.

Find out ore about BuroHappold
Find out more about careers in Structural Engineering from Institute of Structural Engineering.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Shape My City Session Three: model making with Amalgam

The third Shape My City session of the year, held on the 4th of May was focused on model making, and the group was joined by Chris and Anthony from Amalgam. Amalgam Models was established over 30 years ago in the heart of Bristol, and quickly earned a reputation for making models of outstanding quality.

The session began with a quick warm-up activity, this time with an edible twist. In groups, the participants were asked to create a model building out of a delicious range of edible materials, each which represented a real life building material (shredded wheat as straw bales, wafers as sheets of plywood, shortbread as bricks, chocolate fingers as wooden cladding, and icing as plaster). Each group came up with a completely different design, some looked very sturdy with unique artistic points of interest, a favourite was a cathedral with ice-cream cone spires and a flower peace garden made of Smarties!

After the fun warm-up, Chris and Anthony talked to the group all about their practice and their journey into a career in model making. Both had taken different paths to where they are now, and it made for a really engaging and insighful talk. Chris spoke first; he came from an Arts background, studying at College in Belfast before coming to Bristol. He spoke about how he fell into the model making career, whilst looking for a job. He fell in love with model making because of the diversity, clients come in with many different kinds of briefs, and using different materials and problem solving was all part of the exciting challenge.

Anthony then spoke, saying he was 16 and not sure what to do next, he found a model making degree in Bournemouth which he went on to study. He spoke of how model making degree courses do prefer student’s to have an art foundation degree, however experience of using different materials e.g. whilst doing A-Levels, can be an exception and lead you to a place on a model making course. It is important to realise there are different routes for different careers, and model making is no exception.

Chris and Anthony spoke of a ‘typical day’ as a model maker, although they explained that every day can be completely different and this variety was something they really enjoyed. Anthony shared how one day he could be working on a 3D CAD model to print, another making the actual objects from many different materials. He explained how it is rewarding to see a design on paper become an actual object, made from scratch.

Chris explained how model making is important; especially architecturally as it really helps people to understand what a new building/development will look and feel like in a tangible way that drawings and computer simulation can't always do. Chris said that people tend to really love architectural models as you can really get close-up get lots of varied views and sightlines from different persepctives.

We then asked Chris and Anthony what advice they would give their sixteen year-old self. They said it was important to work hard and find your real passion. If you find something you love doing and do it as a career the long days and hard work will be worth it and it's won't feel like a chore. They also encouraged the young people to relax but also try and get varied work experience.

Feeling inspired by the talk, it was time for the participants to get designing. The brief was to create a scale (1:50) model of a building/structure that could be situated in the Gap site between the Architecture Centre and Arnolfini. This space has been derelict for a long time and it would be great to have a new, exciting use for the space. The groups were asked to look outside at the actual space, study the scale model in the gallery and think about:
  • what’s currently missing from the harbourside that would be great to see
  • who will want to use the space? what will they want to do there? 
  • how will people feel when they are in the space? Will it be for living, working or playing?
Some fantastic ideas and models were created. Group one developed a free, green and relaxing public space with a café and a gallery, a water feature and a community greenhouse and garden area. The second group designed a one-storey building (so as to not obstruct the buildings behind) with a very colourful roof, including a café and porthole windows to look out onto the harbour. The third designed a semi-outdoor lecture theatre for programming Ted Talks type lectures, and other events which you could book or walk past and attend. It included glass windows, a canopy, seats and a green space.

Chris and Anthony offered feedback, saying all the designs were great and unique and had a good use of scale, very important in model making.

Overall it was a really interesting, enjoyable and inspiring session, the participants spent time asking lots of questions and studying up close Amalgam’s intriguing models.

Useful Links:
New Blades Modelmaking exhibition

Friday, 5 May 2017

Mentoring: Iman's story

About Shape My City’s Mentor programme
The Architecture Centre’s Shape My City programme also provides the opportunity for Shape My City participants to receive one-to-one mentoring with an approachable built environment professional. This support is longer term, informal and flexible and helps support the young person with more targeted guidance. Help can be offered for a specific school/college project or portfolio, as well as advice and support with work experience, university applications, interviews and career paths. 

Why is it useful for a young person to have a mentor?
For a young person having a mentor can be invaluable, receiving support and knowledge from professionals in the field can help them succeed in their studies, gain insight and confidence and encourage them to and go onto to further education in the built environment and creative sectors. Young people can be inspired by their mentors, getting advice from a professional working in the field can help them see their work with a different view, allowing them to push themselves and create exceptional work. 

Iman’s story
Iman (20, Shape My City 2014 participant) was mentored by Elena Marco (Head of Department, Architecture and the Built Environment, University of the West of England) on her A2 Design Technology Project, a hurricane resistant home.  Elena was the live client for Iman’s project, giving it a real-life feel.  Iman said:

I was asked to look for a live client for my project, which was Elena as she is a professional and knows the Architecture field very well. I had to do a lot of research about specific shapes and materials to enable my home design to function correctly without it being damaged from the hurricane winds debris.

It was useful for me to have Elena by my side with this project as she helped me think about the functionality of the model, but also make it look aesthetically pleasing to get the highest marks possible for my project, Elena also showed me many examples of previous homes which helped me further my research and think of more creative ways to design my hurricane resistant home.
 I visited Elena about 5 times during my A level project to get feedback about my work and to see what can be improved from her point of view. I also collected comments and videos of her talking about my designs to go over my project and make improvements. 

 Her feedback allowed my project to be much better than it otherwise would have been as Elena has a lot of knowledge about architecture and also books and websites that she showed me to take inspiration from and research for my project which led me to getting an A* for my project overall.'

Iman has gone on to study Architecture at the University of Manchester and hopes to carry on to a Masters and work in the field in the near future. 

Elena Marco (mentor) on mentoring Iman:
‘It was a pleasure to help a young and enthusiastic student to achieve an exceptional grade in her A levels. Iman was receptive to feedback and more importantly willing to learn and keep improving her scheme. 

I believe that someone like myself, who leads a department of architecture and the built environment, needs to help the younger generations to make career choices that will lead them to outstanding jobs. By mentoring students through their A levels I hope to make a small contribution. 

This year I am mentoring another student through their A levels and I hope to continue making a small contribution that will lead to developing outstanding future designers.’

Friday, 10 March 2017

Making the Mayor of Bristol’s City pledge a reality, The Architecture Centre continues its commitment to diversity in placemaking with its work experience programme: Shape My City

PRESS RELEASE - January 2017 

This year Bristol’s Architecture Centre ‘comes of age’ at 21 years old. To celebrate the Centre launches the fourth year of its successful Shape My City programme for girls and young people from Black and Minority Ethnic (B&ME ) backgrounds aged 15-19 years old. The 2017 programme marks the Centre’s continued commitment to career progression for all young people and to diversity in the arts and built environment sectors.

Shape My City
Shape My City is a creative youth project that inspires participants about careers in the world of architecture and placemaking and supports their skills development to pursue future work and study options. One of the first participants was Hani Salih from East Bristol. Now aged 21 and in his second year of Architecture in Manchester, he recalls:

Shape My City changed my life and I am grateful for the doors it helped open for me and others. It greatly increased my passion for architecture and cemented my decision to pursue a career in the field.’

Hani’s experience of the programme is captured in Hani’s Story, a newly compiled case study highlighting the impact of the programme. It also showcases a real-life application of the Mayor of Bristol’s city commitment to young people’s progression and careers development.

Commitment to young people’s progression
In December 2016, Mayor Marvin Rees launched the Bristol Resilient City Strategy by renewing his pledge for diversity in the city, calling for greater support of B&ME young people in the work force. Stating,
we will deliver work experience and apprenticeships for every young person’, Mayor Rees believes that gaining quality work experience has a big impact on an individual’s progression opportunities and calls for city-wide industry support of the pledge.  

Shape My City delivers on this commitment. Through a year-long creative programme of workshops and site visits with inspiring professionals, the young participants gain key knowledge, skills and confidence to support their future career pathways. The participants meet and work with a wide range of professionals (architects, landscape designers, engineers, public artists, urban designers and planners) opening their eyes to the diverse professions available in the sector. The programme also enables participants to achieve their Arts Award Accreditation and offers one-to-one mentoring and volunteering opportunities.

Critically, like work experience, the programme develops practical and applicable skills. Each year The Architecture Centre presents a live project challenge to the participants. In 2015 they designed and built a sustainable shelter for the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project; view project film. In 2016 the young people worked with artist Scott Farlow to create a ‘Fun Palace’ temporary structure on the harbourside as part of the Centre’s anniversary Weekender; view the video.

Commitment to diversity
Supporting and inspiring young people from all backgrounds to progress in their careers also communicates the Architecture Centre’s diversity commitment. The Architecture Centre believes that architecture is for everyone. Amy Harrison, Learning and Participation Manager for the Centre, reflects:

‘We have a long track record of using the art form of architecture to inspire and involve all children and young people. We passionately believe the cultural offer of Bristol should benefit all communities in the city, and that the cultural and built environment sectors should reflect the diversity of contemporary Britain. By working together with industry professionals and universities we aim to give young people enriching career and participation opportunities.’

As an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation The Architecture Centre’s inclusive programming, through projects such as Shape My City, embodies the aspirations of ACE’s Creative Case for Diversity and the Government’s White Paper on Culture.


Friday, 18 November 2016

Exploring interior design

This Shape My City blog post was written by participant Martha Eustace.

On the 10th of November, the last Shape My City session of 2016 took place at the Architecture Centre. The theme of the session centred on interior design (a first for Shape My City), and we were joined by Angela Morris, an interior designer who also teaches design courses in Bristol.

 Each member of the Shape My City group had been asked to bring along a picture of one of their favourite interiors, and the warm up activity was focused on these images.

Each person had to explain what it was they liked about the spaces in their photos. From a vast indoor botanical garden in Mexico to the interior of the Clifton Cathedral, one of the common features which had sparked the most interest was the way that light fell into the spaces. The imapct of colour, materials, ambience and furniture were also discussed by the group.

Angela then spoke to us about her journey into the world of interior design, which had begun with a last-minute change of course upon her arrival at university. Angela worked on domestic and office projects before sharing her design indight as a tutor at City of Bristol College. When asked which of her projects had been the most rewarding, she answered that it was her work on the new City of Bristol College Green Campus where she has just retired  from teaching interior design courses.

Alongside the generous budget which made the project “a bit more fun”, the fact that she was able to work in and use the space which she helped to create was, from her point of view, the best part. We were also shown some of her past student’s portfolio's, and introduced to the idea of perspective and isometric drawings. Angela shared how diplomacy and good communication skills were also key for the role of an interior designer, when you have to juggle the needs/wants of the client with the practical considerations of budget and site contractors.

Our design brief for the session was to create a mood board and layout plan for a compact one person studio flat. The client was not specific, so each group chose to design a mini flat for themselves (thinking ahead to independent university life!). After much cutting up of interior design magazines and hasty concept drawings, it was time to present our ideas to the rest of the group. The first group had decided on a very open, light space and a natural colour scheme featuring some copper accents. To maximise storage, they had included a platform under the hammock bed, to act as a kind of ‘floordrobe’!

To divide up the living space large, floor to ceiling silver birch trunks that could be made into shelves, were included, as was a bathroom with a glass ceiling (it was a top floor flat!), to create the illusion of an outdoor shower. The second group had also decided to use light colours on the walls, but with a different accent colour for each room in the flat: orange and blue for the living room and green for the bathroom. To ensure that they had enough storage that had included a bookshelf with a secret door, to act as both a wall and shelving unit, and to break up the space, without using solid walls.

The final group (who admitted to getting distracted by some of the finer details!), had decided on a neutral colour palette and wood décor. The kitchen worktops and table were to be made of the same wood as the floor and would all flow into one another, to create softer curves in what was otherwise a very angular space. The sleeping area was situated on a raised platfrom, which helped divide up the space without the use of walls, and which included subtle floor spotlights on the steps leading up to it.

This was the last workshop session of the 2016, and I think it is fair to say that each member of Shape My City thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet new people and learn about the wide variety of career/study opportunities available within the field of architecture and the built environment. All that remains to be said, on behalf of everyone from Shape My City this year, is a big thank you to Amy for organising all the sessions for us. Good luck to all the ‘Shape My City’ers in whatever they go on to do next!

Useful links: 
British Academy of Interior Design (London and Manchester)
British College of Interior Design (Diploma course)
National Design Academy

Interior Architecture degree course (UWE)
Interior Architecture and Design degree course (Bournemouth)

Interior Design short course (Bath College)
Interior Design one day taster course (Folk House, Bristol)

Friday, 7 October 2016

Fun Palaces with artist Scott Farlow

This blog post was wriiten by Shape my City participant Martha Eustace

On the 8 of September, the Shape My City group met for their 6th session of the year. The theme of the week was ‘Fun Palaces’ and artist Scott Farlow came along to talk to us about his artwork, and help us to develop our own ‘Fun Palaces’ for the Architecture Centre’s 20th birthday festivities on the 25th of September. Fun Palaces is a national campaign supporting local culture at the heart of every community, with an annual weekend of arts and science events created by, for and with local people.

The session began with an exploration of the words ‘fun’ and ‘palace’. Some of the responses to the word fun included ‘letting go’, ‘being childish’ and ‘laughing’. For ‘palace’, the words ‘grand’, ‘opulent’ and ‘secret tunnels’ came to mind. Following on from this, Scott spoke to us about his artist practice, telling us that he is very much a public artist who thrives on collaboration and interactivity with people in the work he produces.

We were then presented with our brief for the week: Design your own Fun Palace. There was, however, an added element to this week’s brief, that we were going to be able to actually construct our designs and display them at the Architecture Centre’s 20th birthday party (a festival style street party on the harbourside). Once we had been given our site, a space on the harbour side opposite the Centre which included a bench and a bin, we set about designing our palaces in small groups.

The outcomes of the design process all had surprisingly similar theme: a covered tunnel/walkway, of which the surfaces could be drawn on and decorated by the public. From amongst an array of imaginative and creative ideas such as ‘toblerone (triangular) tunnels’ and spiral walkways, emerged an idea of being transported to a fantasy space, different from the actual surroundings. With this idea in mind and several shopping lists written, we all agreed to meet again, with Scott, to build our very own ‘Fun Palaces’.

On the 24th of September, Shape My City met up again at the Architecture Centre, and began to build our installation. This involved an amalgamation of all our ideas into one giant structure that would allow the public to interact both creatively and physically with our artwork. After some discussion, the group decided on a long, triangular tunnel, which would be lined with netting and bubble wrap, leading up to an enclosed area where people could spend some time illustrating what their ‘Fun Palace’ would be. We split into two groups, and one built the bamboo bubble wrap tunnel whilst the other produced a series of cardboard and bamboo screens. 

Finally, on the 25th of September, the Fun Palace was constructed by the harbourside in front of the Architecture Centre. The tunnel was transferred from the first floor of the centre to the harbour side out of the window, as the screens were folded up and carried outside. Despite the rain and wind, the Shape My City group managed to produce a net covered bamboo tunnel, complete with bubble wrap floor and a string of lanterns and fairy lights. 

This led to a gazebo clad in our very own cardboard screens, which encompassed a bubble-wrapped bin. We created a making space for children and families, who helped embellish our fun palace structure. Throughout the day we saw the playful interaction between people and our structure, and saw the responses to our fun palace documented all over the cardboard screens. As a group we managed to create our very first simple piece of architecture based on our own models and ideas, and also learnt the value of creative public interaction to architecture.

Reflecting on the process artist Scott said: ‘I am so proud of the young people. They worked so hard - collectively, imaginatively and with great spirit - I was so impressed with their positive and calm approach to the design and making of the Fun Palace, to their will to make something special happen (despite the ridiculous - but amazing weather at times) and in their warm encounters with the public - of which there were many. It was really a most enterprising and inspiring experience for me’.