Environmental Academy

In 2021, PLACED delivered the Environmental Academy programme which focused on how design in the built environment can help address climate change. The theme was chosen in response to our insights from previous PLACED Academies that the environment is high up on the agenda for many young people. The programme was designed to give participants the opportunity to explore their own interests, beliefs and aspirations in this area to develop design ideas that they believe could create better, more sustainable places.

Between June to November, 25 young people participated in 16 diverse and exciting sessions. The first 10 sessions were funded by our primary funder for 2021, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) and Metro Mayor as part of their Community Environment Fund. With thanks to the generosity and additional support from our Partners and Sponsors we were able to enhance the initial programme and deliver a further six workshops.

Our participants, an inspiring group of young people from across Liverpool City Region shared a passion for how the design of places can positively impact the environment and communities. The programme comprised of an independent design project, the design and delivery of a community engagement campaign and a final group project to re-design a town centre.

All sessions were kindly supported by diverse PLACED Ambassadors, community leaders and industry professionals who spoke about their studies and careers, gave advice about portfolios, jobs, studying and developing confidence. They offered insight into different approaches to sustainability and how design in the built environment can address the climate crisis. Their knowledge and experience sparked debate, ideas, and thought-provoking questions from our participants.

Informed by these interesting conversations, participants developed an idea for a project, building, space, artwork or activity that could exist in their local community and have a positive impact on the environment or raise awareness of an environmental issue.

Next, participants further developed these ideas considering key changes they felt needed to happen to improve the built environment with a focus on sustainability. As a team, they put forward thoughtful, creative approaches, communicating their design proposals through digital and physical drawings, sketches and models.

They planned and delivered a youth-led community engagement campaign to understand the views of others and gain feedback on their design proposals. The groups produced surveys, posters, interactive content for the Environmental Academy website and public display screen at Liverpool Museum. They also designed a social media strategy for a series of takeover days, with some posts reaching as far as 200+ people. Their brilliant work can still be viewed on social media platforms using the hashtag #Academytakeover and visiting their website.

Taking on board the feedback from their community engagement and all of their previous work, the cohort worked in teams for a final group project. With the support of amazing Ambassador mentors, the cohort designed masterplans for St Helens, Liverpool, Bootle, Birkenhead and Runcorn town centres. They were challenged to think about what makes a great neighbourhood to live, work and play and how they could encourage and support the community to be more sustainable. They designed a mixture of housing, public realm, landscaping, community buildings and transport routes and hubs that responded to climate change, key environmental issues and sustainability whilst at the same time offering exciting, welcoming, safe and friendly places for people to live, work and visit.

Congratulations to all our participants and we wish them all the best in their next steps. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make the PLACED Environmental Academy possible.

We’re looking for a web designer!

A key part of the PLACED Environmental Academy is our young people being able to design and deliver a programme of engagement, reaching out to the public and exploring what they feel are the important issues in terms of climate change and the built environment.

In response to Covid, this engagement will be delivered digitally. As a result, we are seeking someone to work with us to design a website which the young people who are enrolled in the Academy, supported by PLACED, can populate with their content.

This is an exciting project and we’re looking for someone with the energy and capacity to work with us to help ensure young people’s voices can be heard.

Closing date: Midday on 21st July. Commission to be delivered 28th July – 6th August.

Reflecting on the Insights programme

We have just come to the end of our PLACED Academy Insights programme, a new series of free online events for people aged 13-19 interested in careers in design and the built environment, and what a success it has been!

When a second national lockdown and closure of schools and colleges was announced in early January, we understood the impact this would have on our young people, and in particular on opportunities for work experience. We felt compelled to do what we could to connect those interested in a career in the built environment with industry professionals in some way. We reached out to our fantastic ambassador network and with thanks to their incredible support, were able to host nine free online Q&A sessions. These zoom webinars presented an opportunity for young people to hear from a panel of professionals, learn more about the range of opportunities and pathways into the sector as well as ask some of their burning questions.

A total of 28 inspirational speakers at all stages in their careers took part in the programme, from recent planning graduates to architects heading up national design practices. At each event, our panel gave insight into their job, shared some of their work, talked about their career journey, successes and challenges and offered some invaluable tips. Throughout the programme, a total of 364 young people from across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales zoomed in to hear industry professionals debunk myths, challenge misconceptions, and open their minds to the different opportunities out there and available to them.

“It was really inspiring and educating. It was inclusive and was nice to know that there are successful people in a field I want to go into who were, at one point, in my position.”

Insights attendee, Diversity in the built environment

With a total of 126 questions asked and a 92% satisfaction rate from our feedback surveys across all events, we can conclude that the young people valued this opportunity to hear from and connect with those already in the working world. 98% said they would recommend the sessions with many commenting that they felt “more informed”, “inspired”, “confident” and “reassured” after attending an event.

All of the events were recorded and can be found on the Insights Videos link here.

We are delighted with the feedback from our participants, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as us!

“I feel reassured and now know to just do what I love.”

Insights attendee, What’s it like to be an Architect?