Outreach workshops at Community College Whitstable

As part of the Outreach programme which the Kent School of Architecture runs, we made four trips to Community College Whitstable where we introduced the subject of architecture to a class of Year 9 Art students.

In our first two sessions we discussed the principles behind architectural drawing to the students, before introducing them to their brief – to design a café with a view on the Whitstable Harbour Arm.  Working in groups of 3 to 4, the students quickly started playing with ideas by sketching them and by exploring existing precedents.  By looking at projects such as underwater hotels and roof-top gardens, the students soon realised that the possibilities of architecture went beyond what they had originally thought.

In the third session, we introduced the students to the idea of working to scale and with this in mind, tasked them with making a 1:100 scale model which would showcase their designs.  We provided them with white card, acetate, foam board and paper and the designs soon came to life which the students all seemed to really enjoy.  Although some of the students needed encouragement in their abilities to design and model-make, they all pushed through and produced a variety of exciting and unique proposals.  The model making continued into our final session, at the end of which, we asked them to present their work to the rest of the class, which they all felt confident in doing.

During our time there it was great to also talk to the students about studying architecture.  Although they were only 13 years old, they were curious about the route to becoming an architect, as well as our current MArch work.  They spoke to us about their personal experiences and interests in the field, and there were a few students who were genuinely interested in pursuing it in the future.

Overall, we were truly impressed with the students’ creativity, outcomes, and interest in the subject. We both agree that we would have enjoyed a workshop like this at their age, as neither of us had the opportunity.  We hope the students have not only learned about architecture as a potential career path, but also about group-work, the design process and confidence in their abilities and ideas.

By Monica Win and Edward Hobbs
Stage 4, MArch

Community College Whitstable win the Stage Makers Competition

Students from Whitstable Community College have won the Stage Makers inter-school competition. The competition ran for three months and included teams from Abbey School, St Anselms and Community College Whitstable. The participating students were given a brief to design a building within their school site which could be used for performances.

Ambassadors from Kent School of Architecture led 5 workshops within each school and provided the students with materials for designing and model making. After introducing students to plans, sections and elevations, it was over to each group to decide what space they wanted to make for their school. There were certain things that the space had to include: a green room, WC and shower, storage, a stage and a space in which the audience would sit or stand.

On Thursday 3rd April, students, parents and staff were invited to Kent School of Architecture for an afternoon of activities and a presentation of prizes. Fine artist Patrick Crouch and the KSA ambassadors took the visiting students outside in the sunshine to design and build towers with some very impressive results.

The competition models were displayed in the Digital Crit Space which is where the judging took place. All the judges agreed that the Year 9 students from Community College Whitstable were the winners with their model – The Oyster.

Academic lead Rebecca Hobbs said: ‘All the pupils from the participating schools showed a great level of commitment and each group came up with some lovely ideas. The winning team used the oyster shell to generate the form of their stage. They encouraged and supported each other throughout the five workshop sessions. They worked together to produce a simple and elegant scheme illustrating their thought process in a very mature way’.

All students were presented with a Stage Makers sketch book and have been offered a place on the Architecture Summer School which is happening in July. The winners each received a copy of Phyllis Richardson’s influential book Big Ideas, Small Buildings and the afternoon ended with refreshments and a tour of the school.

Sonya Connell from Community College Whitstable commented: ‘The students thoroughly enjoyed the process working alongside the University staff and the student ambassadors and are thrilled to have won the competition. It was very interesting to see the University in action and the students really enjoyed seeing the work of the architects that they had been working with. The students are really looking forward to the Summer School and we are happy to support the project again next year’.

Mary Woodfine from Abbey School said: ‘Our students really enjoyed the workshops and meeting the ambassadors. Problem solving and team working skills came to the fore but over everything else the students really enjoyed the experience and as a result, are considering both the Summer School and Architecture as an option’.

We are looking forward to seeing the students again in July for the Summer School and would like to thank them again for taking part in our first Stage Makers competition.