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!
Read more about the project John Perkins website.