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Imagining the city of the future with 11-year-olds

Imagining the city of the future with 11-year-olds

10 December 2018

This summer RIBA Chartered Practice, Freehaus partnered with Rokesly School for a series of workshops with almost 100 primary school children. Freehaus are RIBA Architecture Ambassadors - RIBA members who inspire the next generation through partnering with local schools as part of the RIBA National Schools Programme. In this series of workshops Freehaus worked with students to think about alternative transport, and imagine a London without cars.

Find out about Freehaus' experience as Architecture Ambassadors in this film and in their own words, below.

As part of the RIBA Architecture Ambassadors programme we developed a series of workshops with Rokesly Junior School. As a practice strongly engaged in the collective and social potential of architecture, we established a programme that tied in with Rokesly Junior School’s curriculum and which would also allow the students to engage in thought provoking and hands-on activities about their local community.

Rokesly School children reimagining their own streets and neighbourhoods through collage © Freehaus

The workshops revolved around modes of transport in the city and how infrastructure affects the way our cities are shaped and ultimately impacts our communities. The aim was for the students to think about alternative ways of transport and ultimately to reimagine London devoid of cars: how would that affect the way we live? the way our streets work? what would we do with all the extra space?!

Our first workshop centered on a lively discussion on the way different cities developed alongside the evolution of transport. By reviewing differing city plans we encouraged the students to consider why particular cities had been established in particular locations. Through this exercise the students began to reflect on alternative modes of transport and, through the use of collage, we encouraged the students to reimagine their own streets and neighbourhoods. At the culmination of the first workshop the students presented their utopian street scenes and the year group identified a selection of collages to develop in more detail as part of the next workshop.

During the second workshop ideas were brought to life through the construction of a full-size street scene © Freehaus

The second workshop saw these ideas come to life as we looked to depict an amalgamation of these collages as full-size street scene. Throughout the day this group of ninety 11-year-old students built their ideal streetscape using recyclable materials, such as cardboard, paper and old building product to represent their own new and refreshing concepts.

A key aspect of this activity was for the students to be encouraged to articulate ideas, vocalise them and to work as a team. At each stage in the workshop, the students were asked to form smaller teams where each individual could take on a role and responsibility. Learning how to organise and delegate tasks within a group, allowed the students to recognise that by working iteratively and collectively we can accomplish greater results. The conclusion of the final workshop featured a show and tell presentation of our idyllic streetscape to the student’s friends and families.

The Freehaus RIBA Architecture Ambassadors demonstrate some of the features of the reimagined street scene © Freehaus

Through filming and presenting the results of this two-day workshop to the school and family we hope that these ideas can be recognized and taken forward, having a wider impact on the community. Ultimately we hope the workshops helped enthuse the students about the positive effect of good design, not only on the way we live but also on the way we interact with one another and the world around us.

Find out more about the RIBA Architecture Ambassador programme and the RIBA National Schools Programme.

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