Thursday, 30 April 2015

Bristol Green Capital Youth Day

This blog post is written by Shape My City 2014 alumni, Cai Burton.
Photos courtesy @joncraig

Thanks to the Architecture Centre and Shape My City, I was lucky enough to attend Bristol’s Green Youth Day last week (20 April) as part of the Festival of Ideas and Bristol 2015 programme. It was an exciting day filled with speakers talking about all sorts of green issues.We started the event with the loud and energetic beats of Weapons of Sound, before Marcus Brigstocke took to the stage to introduce the event.
To kick things off, we had Arthur Kay (who set up Bio-bean, a business converting used coffee granules into fuel) talking about Urbanisation. He explained that by 2050, three quarters of all people will live in cities and to support that, we’d need to build a new city the size of New York every month.  

Writer Alice Bell who’s job is to “be hopeful about climate change” – then told us about the 3 types of people who negatively impact climate change. ‘Green Wash-ers’ who will do small good deeds, such as planting a tree to cover up for large bad deeds, such as cutting down hundreds of trees every day. ‘It’s not that bad-ers’ who – when it’s less credible to outright deny climate change – insist that it’s not as bad as everyone thinks it is. Finally, the ‘It’ll be fun-ers’ who think that climate change will actually benefit them. While we can all sometimes act like this a little, she said that we can make a difference – no matter how small.

Next up was Laurens de Groot who specialises in making drones. He began by telling us about his background and how he’s grown from sailing boats in front of whaling ships to creating drones that can locate poachers! Next, before a break, was Michaela Musilova who has dreams of being an astronaut. Her job was to stop any harmful microbes from ending up on the Mars rover, and consequently she has her signature on Mars.

We then had a short break where we could explore the Colston Hall foyer. Here there were all sorts of stalls, including First bus, @Bristol, Knowle West Media Centre, Creative Youth Network and Temple Records. It was an incredibly lively atmosphere and it was fun to wander about. I spent some of my time creating a large collaged letter ‘N’ with the Collage Club that’ll be put up outside The Station in the centre as part of a sign saying “Waste Wanted”.

Once seated again, we kicked off the next section with Marcus Brigstocke making his own pledge – to halve his meat consumption and to try to cycle a lot more. Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, was up next, and she felt that sexism has a lot in common with climate change. It’s easy to just look away, but if everyone stands up for these issues (sexism and climate change), then we can all make a difference. After her, Owen Jones took to the stage to talk to us about hope. He felt that it was important to question the establishment. Why – when we are one of the richest countries in the world – are there so many people using food banks? Why are most people in poverty in work? Why, when instead of being angry at the powerful, are we angry at the weak, who have no power at all? Owen Jones challenged us saying “if you unite together, you are invincible” and told us that it is all about us, and the power we have. Pretty inspring stuff.

Georgia Gould was next on the agenda, and she explained that there are lots of inaccuracies about the youth of today. 75% of people thought that youth crime was increasing when it isn’t at all. She shared many examples of young people standing up for what they believe in, inspiring us to make a difference.

Finally, before lunch we had young Bristolain Fahama Muhamed from Integrate Bristol. She told the story of how they challenged Michael Gove to include education about Female Genital Mutilation in the curriculum. Lots of people opposed them, but with a good cause, a good team and good support, they managed to make a difference.

I was invited to the VIP lunch where young people took part in group discussions with local businesses. My group was with KPMG and we talked about the future of work. During the lunch break, the range of stalls were out again, and it was still really interesting to wander round. At the bottom of the foyer, there were even people teaching parkour! But it was nice to just bask in the sun for a while, and reflect all that I'd heard..

When we returned, we started things off with Max Wakefield telling us about the solar tree that they’ve built in Millennium Square. He explained how they had built the first Solar Panel Tree, and that the energy it produces is so much cleaner than fossil fuels. After him was Ugo Vallauri from The Restart Project. His aim was to encourage people not only to recycle, but to fix things all together. They run workshops where you can bring along broken gadgets and learn to fix them.

Following a short break again, we had a presentation from Labour Behind the Label. They showed us a short video highlighting the bad working conditions for the people who make our clothes in Columbia. Whilst the creator couldn’t attend in case he was arrested for making the video, a representative was there who explained that most high street stores use workers working in these conditions, and it was up to us to find out where our clothes came from.

The last speaker was Emmanuel Jal, who wasn’t so much of a “speaker” as a “singer” and “dancer”!
He opened with his song “We Want Peace” and that was the theme of his talk. He explained his past and how he fought in a civil war at a very young age – even watching his friends die. After eventually getting help, he turned to music. His music focuses on peace, and he managed to get us all up singing and dancing! The event was closed by Mayor George Ferguson who really encapsulated the whole feel of the event. He was very enthusiastic about the day and the things that would come out of it.

The event was really interesting. The wide range of speakers gave me a lot to think about. However, I feel as though the biggest influence the day had on me was making me think about green issues in a much broader sense. There are so many ways that we can be green – whether we’re sitting in ships in front of whaling boats or simply fixing our broken mobile. It’s inspiring to think that there are so many ways that we can get involved.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Making your model future - Shape My City 2.0

Shape My City 2.0 

Last night the Architecture Centre welcomed its brand new Shape My City participants for the first workshop of 2015. As this was the first opportunity for the young people to meet one another the initial part of the evening was spent ‘breaking the ice’. The 10 participants came from a range of schools and neighbourhoods across the city, highlighting the opportunity Shape My City offers to Bristol’s younger citizens to meet other like-minded individuals. The group started the workshop explaining what they hoped to gain from being involved in the project and their answers created a wall of aspirations.

It seemed fitting for the first session to focus on architectural model-making with the Architecture Centre’s Exploring Scale and Vision exhibition on display. Friendly Amalgam model-maker Phil joined the group to share what his career entails. Phil decribed his career path into model-making, which involved a moment of realisation during his university years that led him to leave the course and seek a job at Amalgam.

Phil explained how the people working in the Amalgam studio come from a range of backgrounds (3D design, product design, architecture, graphic design, fine art, sculpture, carpentry, electrics and engineering), but the one thing they  all share is a real passion for what they do. Phil added that although his job as a model maker is sometimes stressful (tight deadlines on projects, challenging processes to create unusual items) this is far outweighed by the fun, creativity and diversity of the job. Finally Phil answered the infamous Shape My City question; if you could give one piece of advice to your 16 year old self (knowing what you know now), what would it be?  Insightfully Phil answered that he would teach his younger self the benefits of patience.

Amalgam Director James also joined the session to share his insights on the creative way the studio staff at Amalgam work collaboratively to respond to the diverse range of projects they work on (they can make virtually anything: architectural models, props for film and theatre, prototypes of new products). James’ advice to the young city shapers was ‘do what you are passionate about’ – something he and Phil obviously did, and their passion is infectious.

With the inspiration of a room filled with Amalgam models and Phil as a mentor the group were given the chance to design and build their own model.  In teams they worked to ‘fill-the-gap’ between the Architecture Centre and Arnolfini. The disused space on the Harbourside edge has been a focus of our current exhibition and we have been eager to invite new ideas for how the wasteland could be transformed.

With an air of realism (working to a design brief under the pressure of time) and after browsing a range of inspiration sheets, the teams set to conceiving of how best to re-model the ‘gap-site’.  Using an assortment of model making materials the three teams created some innovative models which included a contemporary bandstand in the round, a family-friendly green space with sandpit that can be accessed from both the Architecture Centre and Arnolfini, and an amphitheatre music venue with an outdoor cinema screen.  All of the ideas were free for the public to use and sought to encourage new demographics to enjoy and interact with the harbourside area. The group’s ideas highlighted the need for a free, family-friendly cultural venue to counter-balance the eateries and nightclubs that currently populate the Harbourside. Phil and James praised the teams for not only their original ideas, ability to work in teams to a tight deadline, but also for considering the site’s surroundings.

The Architecture Centre is excited to be working alongside such a great group of young people and is looking forward to the next session in May. We would like to thank Phil and James from Amalgam for joining us, sharing stories and imparting their wisdom.  Thank you also to Hani our Shape My City 2014 alumni, who supported this session as a mentor.

To find out more:
New Blades – the model making industry annual new talent show

This blog post is written by Hannah Luff, who is the Architecture Centre's current Creative Employment Intern.