Academy evening session – creating portfolios

On Tuesday 18th October we held our second two-hour skills session for this year’s cohort. Six of our Ambassadors, from a range of disciplines and professional levels, joined us on Zoom to present a portfolio of their choice, answering questions related to their work, projects and professions. Each offered best-practice insight on clearly presenting design work for different purposes.

Architect and Director Andrew De Silva (Das) from David Miller Architects, and Rhianna Weston, a MSc student in Climate Resilience and Sustainable Architecture from the University of Liverpool, each gave fantastic introductory presentations on putting together an architectural or urban design portfolio respectively.

Das spoke about the importance of including a range of media, personal interests and creativity in a university application, whilst Rhianna explained how balanced page layouts and a clear narrative contribute to ‘telling the story’ of a project.

Millie Evans from Maccreanor Lavington, and Anna Harris from MF Architects, both Part 2 Architectural Assistants, presented their master’s projects from university. They really gave our young people a flavour of the breadth and quality of work produced by architecture students at master’s level. Stylising drawings, page hierarchy, reflective descriptions, including a variety of images, and understanding your audience were all discussed.

Millie Evans from Maccreanor Lavington showed the cohort her portfolio from university

Architect Louise Taylor, from BDP, also presented her fantastic master’s thesis project, undertaken at the University of Sheffield whilst in practice. This communicated the value of not overcrowding a page, explaining ideas through diagrams, and using bold images to give the portfolio a strong visual identity. Louise also introduced the group to conservation architecture.

And finally, Darren Smith, Senior Architect at AECOM, took us on a journey through his career to date. This included the portfolio of sketches, drawings and photographs he used to apply to university, images from his architectural education, and technical drawings that his team are currently working on. Darren’s wide-ranging experience across sectors highlighted the different avenues a career in architecture can take.

A huge thank you to our speakers, and to the young people for listening and asking questions. This session was invaluable for participants putting together portfolios for university applications, as well as those unsure of their future career paths.

For participants, remember Anna’s ‘four c’s’:


What to include, showing a range of skills, not showing everything from a project but selecting the best images.


The layout of the pages, using a grid structure, and lining up images. Software can be useful for this but also good old-fashioned rulers.


Setting rules so that pages look cohesive. Having the title, subtitle, and any captions inconsistent size, location, and font on each page.


Including personality, probably the most important for a portfolio to get into university as the other skills are all things that can be learned. Use the portfolio to show your interests and hobbies, get creative with the graphic styles, and tailor the portfolio to best show your own work rather than using a generic template.

First design skills session – learning to draw like an architect

On Tuesday 20th September we held our first of many design skills sessions for the PLACED Academy 2022-23 cohort. The session began with an introduction explaining why architects draw, how they draw, and who they draw for. We discussed how architects use drawings, at different scales and levels of detail, to explain how their designs work to various audiences, including clients and the public. Participants learnt that digital software and sketching by hand are both invaluable tools to an architect or designer.

As the session continued, participants sketched objects of their choice, followed by one-point perspective drawings of rooms in their home. After this, they tried orthographic drawing, learning about plan, section and elevation through demonstrations and tasks. This included sketching an elevation of their home or a nearby building.

The session was attended by Laura Gouk, an architect at OMI, who demonstrated some of her portfolio to give an insight into the industry. We were really happy with the progress in this session and would like to thank Laura for attending.

One of our participants showing one of his sketches from the session

Launching the PLACED Digital Academy!

We are thrilled to announce the launch of PLACED Digital Academy – a FREE to access, creative programme about the built environment for 14-18 year olds. 

The shift to a digital Academy for 2020-21 is in response to the current Covid-19 crisis, when supporting young people in taking positive steps towards their future is more important than ever.

The Academy is designed to tackle the barriers that young people face in accessing professional careers in the built environment. It seeks to support greater diversity in the sector, enable participants to develop their skills and confidence and empower them as active members of society. It is being delivered in partnership with the University of Liverpool School of Environmental Sciences, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the Regenda Group, along with support from amazing sponsors.  

The ten-week digital programme will give 30 young people the opportunity to participate in an exciting programme of activities about the built environment, with online workshops, tutorials and guidance from industry mentors.

Participants will take part in online workshops, including design projects, skills development activity, professional skill sessions and one-to-one support, helping them to feel confident as they take their next steps on their journeys. Young people will be supported by the PLACED team and fantastic mentor Ambassadors, built environment professionals and students. Mentors will include architects, planners, interior designers and landscape architects, offering young people a unique insight into careers and study routes.

One previous Academy participant states:

“The Placed Academy has really benefited me in many ways. It has boosted my confidence, developed my teamwork skills and has truly given me an insight into the built environment and what a career would be like in it. It is a great opportunity”. 

The 2020 digital Academy builds upon the success of PLACED’s first Academy programme, which ran from July 2019 until May 2020, as a series of face-to-face activities and workshops. 35 young people graduated from the programme in May. Their time on the programme has seen them become confident, informed young people able to think creatively to solve problems and develop ideas. 

PLACED Director, Jo Harrop says 

“At PLACED, we believe creative learning is an invaluable tool in developing young people’s confidence, self-belief and skills. Making the built environment the focus of this creativity means we can create empowered young citizens who know their view matters and that they have the potential to shape the places in which they live. 

We also believe it is a priority to support young people under-represented in the built environment in accessing the sector: whether young women, those from black and ethnic minority communities and those from less privileged areas. Only by supporting greater diversity through education can we create better, stronger and more understanding communities who can make a difference. 

That is why we established the PLACED Academy and we are extremely grateful for all the support we have received from our Partners and Sponsors.”

To find out more and get involved explore the pages on this website, and find out more about PLACED at Applications are open until 30th June.