Final evening session – environmental design

On Tuesday 25th April, we held the final PLACED Academy evening session based on the topic of environmental design in architecture.

We started the session by discussing Earth Day – its origins and significance. We watched a great video about Earth Day 2023, on the theme of ‘Invest in Our Planet’, and asked participants if they or their school did any activities for the day. Some of the participants told us that they did some litter picking as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award!

We then introduced the concept of environmental design, discussing key concepts such as designing buildings and places that are low energy, low-carbon and adaptable, designed for future uses and environments. We discussed the climate emergency and global warming, and the responsibility of all industries to be proactive. Participants were shocked to find out that the built environment and construction sector is responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions! We discussed the meaning of ‘net zero’, in light of the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, the UK Architects Declare Network and the UK Net Zero 2050 target.

So, what we can do about it and how can we design more environmentally friendly buildings? We discussed the importance of considering environmental impact at every stage of the design process, through concept design, planning and construction processes. This might mean building with local or recycled materials, minimising energy use through passive strategies for heating and cooling, or increasing biodiversity. We explained how important it is that everyone in the design team, including architects, clients, and engineers, considers the environmental and social implications of their designs in every sense, and the ability of environmental design to have positive impacts on people’s health and wellbeing.

To consolidate what we learnt in the first half of the session, we did a fun Kahoot! Quiz, which our participants absolutely loved!

Once we’ve had a comfort break, we moved into explaining holistic sustainable architecture and best-practice examples. Georgina suggested a good book to read on this topic, “Designing for the Climate Emergency” by Aidan Hoggard et al., published last year and targeted towards architecture students. It outlines interrelated themes on this topic and ways to approach them, such as performance, people, community, and materials.

We also discussed site analysis, a process participants have undertaken regularly throughout the year. Site analysis should be carried out at the start of a project (and throughout) to properly understand where a project will be built. This depends on certain factors such as climates, weather patterns, history, or soil conditions. We discussed adaptability and thinking towards the future, that designers need to consider how we will be living in 20, 50 or 100 years’ time, adjust to ever-changing environmental concerns and creating buildings and places that are able to adapt. We looked at some examples such as Full Fill Homes in India (affordable, low environmental impact housing which is quick to assemble), Building with Earth, CobBauge and Upcycle House by Lendager Arkitekter in Denmark (built with upcycled materials and repurposed shipping containers). We also discussed other environmental approaches including bioclimatic architecture, eco-design and biomimicry.

We did another Kahoot! Quiz to finish off the session and played environmental design Pictionary on Zoom Whiteboard. Then we moved on to some evaluation questions to chat about the skills our participants have gained through the PLACED Academy programme and how it will help them stand out to others in applications, we used Miro to do some sticky notes virtually.

We’re so proud of all our participants and what they’ve achieved throughout the programme, we’ve enjoyed growing alongside them and watching them flourish with confidence and skills. We’re very nearly at the end of the 2022/23 programme, just one more Saturday session to go!

Redeveloping the Strand shopping centre – academy saturday session with avison young

In April, our PLACED Academy young people joined us for a workshop with GOLD Sponsor Avison Young alongside Sefton Council to explore public realm opportunities in the new vision for Bootle’s Strand Shopping Centre.

The workshop was kicked-off with a project briefing and tour of the complex from Principle & Managing Director of Avison Young, Stephen Cowperthwaite. The tour included exploring the 3 sites earmarked for opportunity.

We challenged the young people to design new public spaces for one of the three sites, with a particular focus on attracting local young people their age. The participants took on a competitive creative challenge in teams, which encouraged them to apply critical thinking and manage a fixed budget in the form of printed money, which they were to use to purchase built elements from a hypothetical shop. The budget was intentionally low, encouraging the participants to consider what they felt was most important for their designs. Mini tasks were revealed throughout the session, such as one which asked the teams to consider an approach to enable local young people to feel a sense of pride and ownership over these new spaces. Once we’d finished hypothetically shopping, we looked at other schemes in the UK which have successfully encouraged young people to take ownership over public realm and built spaces.

The teams presented their ideas and designs to the client and their fellow cohort. Ideas included: a food court, with dedicated space to enable local youth groups to create permanent artworks; a food market; an indoor park offering safe spaces for young people; and a canal-side event space that included the creation of jobs for local young people.

We really enjoyed seeing the young people’s schemes develop as the day unfolded and were impressed with how well they budgeted to create some amazing youth-led spaces with connection and local pride in mind! A huge thank you to Avison Young, Sefton Council and PLACED Ambassadors Jay Orritt and Thomas Tzortzi.

Applications open for the placed academy 2023-24!

We’re excited to announce applications are OPEN for the PLACED Academy 2023-24 programme! Starting with a 4-day summer school in late July, the programme consists of monthly sessions that are packed full of creative and skills-building workshops. The programme will run from July 2023 until April 2024 and is totally FREE! Apply now!

The PLACED Academy will support youth voice and citizenship, enabling designers and decision-makers to engage with a group of typically underrepresented people. Participants can expect to develop their skills and knowledge of the built environment as they take part in creative design and skills workshops. Participants will also have the chance to be involved in LIVE projects with industry professionals and meet people in the sector. 

“I have really been enjoying the PLACED Academy. I have learnt so much and met lots of great people. I feel more confident about careers in the built environment”

– 2022/23 PLACED Academy Participant

The programme will combine in-person and digital delivery and will include the following:

  • Launch event to meet the team and introduce the programme
  • Summer school: an intensive 4 day programme, where participants will work on creative design projects and be introduced to planning, regeneration and architecture
  • Design workshops: monthly design sessions through creative workshops
  • Skills sessions: monthly evening sessions to develop skills and knowledge of the built environment 
  • Graduation event: a celebration of participant’s progress and success on the programme 

Link HERE to apply!

“The opportunities PLACED offers are truly brilliant!”

– PLACED Academy Alumni Member

We’re so excited to be able to welcome another cohort of participants, we’re looking forward to seeing who joins us and how brilliant they will be!