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.