PLACED Alumni & David Miller Architects – virtual design academy

During the Easter holidays, David Miller Architect’s held their fantastic Virtual Design Academy. This time, PLACED have collaborated with DMA and offered the opportunity to our PLACED Alumni. Two of our previous Academy participants, Alice and Diya, completed the 5 day programme.

David Miller Architects (DMA) are recognised industry leaders in developing innovative, technology-led solutions and modern methods of construction to solve complex problems around design, cost, and programme. As a result, they regularly share experience and expertise with government and professional bodies, consultants, and contractors, both in the UK and abroad.

Throughout the 5 days programme, the participants designed a range of different things on a pre-chosen site for their chosen client. They produced a design report, discussing their approach to design and design development and also had a go at modelling a 3D computer model! The brilliant Liverpool DMA team supported the participants and mentored them throughout the programme.

Thank you to DMA for teaming up with us to offer this brilliant opportunity for the participants to have access to some great programmes and be mentored by people in the industry.

Adaptive reuse – Academy evening session

On Tuesday 21st March, our PLACED Academy participants learnt about ‘adaptive reuse’ in architecture through modelling with paper. Participants were asked to bring along an image of a building they really like, which they modelled and adapted to suit imagined new uses.

The session began with a presentation showcasing paper models, prototypes, artworks and products by practitioners from diverse sectors and industries, including Foldability Studio, MAKE architects and Issey Miyake. We considered simple techniques for manipulating paper to create three-dimensional forms, inspired by a video of architect Bjarke Ingels creating a quick paper model of his studio’s Serpentine Pavilion. Online resources and key reference texts were suggested for those interested in further developing their skills in this area, including ‘Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form’ by Paul Jackson and ‘Architectural Modelmaking’ by Nick Dunn.

Participants were asked to create a paper model of their chosen building, inspired by the ideas and examples presented. Chosen buildings included the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Ren building in China and the Antilia in India. We thought about how these buildings are currently used and how their architectural forms, materials and internal layouts allow specific activities to take place within them.

The second part of the session introduced ‘adaptive reuse’ as a key concept in architecture, referring to the process of aligning existing buildings and their environments to uses that more closely meet the needs of current (and future) communities. Exemplar projects were presented, including Astley Castle by Witherford Watson Mann architects, and more locally, the Liverpool Philharmonic by Caruso St. John architects. We discussed adaptive reuse and the circular economy, the importance of preserving cultural heritage and approaches to building more sustainably. Key reference texts were again suggested, including ‘UnDoing Buildings: Adaptive Reuse and Cultural Memory’ by Sally Stone.

Participants were asked to adapt their earlier models using differently coloured paper, proposing changes to the building and its setting to allow for new uses. Some added more storeys, extra rooms with special features or decided their internal uses would be different!

The session was also available as an at-home worksheet for those who couldn’t attend or would like to revisit these activities in their own time.

Thank you to those who attended and your contributions to discussions. We hope the session was interesting and introduced ideas that will become useful to your future studies, work or careers within architecture and beyond.

Designing spaces for a client – Saturday session

In March, we delivered another PLACED Academy Saturday session with Gold Sponsor Pegasus Group and with long-term sponsors MGMA Architects.

The session focused on a project for client Young Person’s Advisory Service (YPAS), a Merseyside based charity that provides mental health and emotional wellbeing services to children, young people, and families. YPAS are upgrading their Liverpool central hub, led by the partnership between Pegasus and MGMA Architects, which will see a major redesign of their site, located on the corner of Copperas Hill and Bolton Street in Liverpool. 28 people from our cohort came to the session and explored how the building could be improved, with particular focus on how the reception area and therapy spaces could better facilitate therapy sessions.

The session began with meeting the design team to hear about the project brief, they also met the client and were able to hear about the overall aspirations for the site. The cohort heard why it was important to get a young person’s perspective on a project such as this one and learnt about what YPAS do.

We then conducted a site visit to the YPAS centre and studied what it’s like now. We thought about what worked, what didn’t, how the spaces are used and explored the building inside and out. We then asked the cohort to produce some “hairy drawings”, a term and skill the cohort have already explored before, to start off. A hairy drawing is a sketch or drawing that we use to initialise our ideas before developing them.

We then explained the brief and split into groups to really begin thinking about our designs. There are 4 spaces to design, so each group needed to think about their allocated space. We had rooms for peer-to-peer therapy, 1-on-1 therapy, group therapy and reception. We asked the cohort to think about what is important for each space, what should or shouldn’t it have that would make young people feel safe, comfortable, cared for and able to engage with therapy.

Once they had some thoughts down, we collaged them. Participants could create something conceptual or realistic but something that shows what they would use the space for and how they would make it a safe space. Participants then had the opportunity to feedback their designs to the clients and give their ideas.

Our participants had some fantastic ideas, thinking about the colours of the room and how this impacts the service users, and adding activities and lighting to give the room some atmosphere. Some participants thought about the furniture within the rooms and general maintenance of the building, while others thought about the acoustics of the rooms in terms of waiting rooms and smaller rooms, as to not disturb service users or overwhelm them!

A huge thank you to Pegasus, MGMA Architects and YPAS for their support on the session, as well as PLACED Ambassador Eleana Orr.