11 November, 2021

RIBA Architecture Ambassadors

Earlier in the year Holland Harvey joined the RIBA Architecture Ambassadors programme which partners practices with teachers to ‘empower and inspire children and young people to explore and voice their opinion about their built environment’.

We have been partnered with the London Design & Engineering University Technical College (LDEUTC) and are working with a group of Key Stage 5 learners who are in their final year of Sixth Form.

Working closely with the teachers at LDEUTC and the RIBA Learning team, we have developed a 3-month programme where the students are asked to develop proposals for a site on Stroudley Walk, in Bromley-by-Bow.

Hosting a total of 3 sessions throughout the programme, the first was an introduction to site analysis and involved a visit to the site where the students could put this to practice. The second was held at LDEUTC and students were encouraged to develop their design propositions through group tutorials, model making, and presentation practice. The third session will be held at our studio where the programme will culminate in student reviews and awards.

All too often model making is considered as the very final part of a project; what you do once you know what your project is going to be. In this workshop, we turned this on its head, showing that model making can be a fantastic design tool to aid in idea development. First, we challenged the learners to create a 3D model with paper and tape in just five minutes, with only one rule: it could not be a box.

I remember hating these quick creative challenges when I was learning. There’s no time to be neat, to think about the options, to plan. This of course is the point. It denies the learner a chance to be precious with their models and forces them to make snap decisions and go with creativity and spontaneity, thereby generating new ideals.

Following this quick sketch model, we then had a much longer period to create a second model that could be more planned out and detailed, building on ideals and techniques brought to light by the first quick model. The end result of this was a series of exciting models, the shape and form of which would have probably surprised the makers themselves at the beginning of the session.

While a lot of model making focuses on the model as the end product, that doesn’t have to be the case either. We experimented with photographing these models using a bright light to create high contrast and strong shadows, transforming the paper models into tangible spaces. The learners can now print out and draw over and work into these images to further develop their designs.

It was a great day and the level of experimentation and creativity shown was fantastic, we are excited to see how the learners develop their work from here.

Jacob Riman, architect at Holland Harvey