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Buildings of the Future

Exhibition Piece: These models are just a handful of those made by children at the surrounding primary schools of Girton, Histon and Impington, Milton and Oakington. They show futuristic buildings (some with hot tubs!) that may be made using sustainable materials.

By Delyth Turner-Harriss, Events and Professional Development Co-ordinator; RIBA

What will our schools and communities look like in the future?  The Royal Institute of British Architects in the East region has been running schools workshops to find out what young people think.

In June a series of workshops led by RIBA Architects took place in partner primary schools in Histon and Impington, Girton, Oakington and Milton.  The students created imaginative models of underground and tree top dwellings, zero-gravity football pitches, and buildings with a whole range of eco inventions.  Here you can see some of the models created by students.  A selection is also on display as part of the 75th Anniversary exhibition. Moreover, RIBA Architects will be running a workshop on 18 September for the whole of Year 7 to explore ideas around the future of school buildings.

Impington Village College has an amazing piece of architecture at its centre.  One of very few buildings in the UK designed by the father of the modernist movement, lies hidden in the centre of a school.  How could an organisation that cares about the built environment not want to be involved in saving such a valuable building?

RIBA East’s network of built environment contacts were equally enthusiastic helping to support the school’s efforts to obtain Lottery funding and bring the building back to full use. 

This was also an ideal opportunity to raise the profile of great architecture and design in the community and amongst potential future architects, designers and built environment professionals.  Both the RIBA and the Cambridge Association of Architects contacted local Members and over sixteen architects volunteered to be involved in education workshops at the school and gave recommendations of academic contacts.  The University of Cambridge architecture department publicised a call for help and an archivist volunteered.  An award-winning planning and heritage consultancy was also involved.

After all, architecture has a role in all of our daily lives.  It’s the places and spaces we live and work in.  It’s the buildings, streets, squares and odd little corners that make up our daily environment.  The RIBA’s aim is to engage people with architecture, design and the built environment – to reveal what makes great architecture, old and new.  To inspire, to inform, to excite!

RIBA East organises school outreach work in the region, providing a programme of activity which celebrates architecture, with a series of activities containing common strands and messaging.  There is no set theme; however there are some common ideas running through the sessions such as the celebration of good quality, sustainability and a sense of place.

The workshops provided an opportunity for young people to discuss change in their environment, understand the process of decision making, look at design, the development of communities, and think about their built environment, structures, materials and in particular, sustainability.  Developing a greater understanding and awareness of a good quality environment was also key.  These themes run through the school curriculum. 

As Impington Village College wanted to repair and regenerate its extraordinary Grade 1 listed Gropius building this is an ideal opportunity, to think about architecture, design, form, function and the long term legacy of structures in the built environment.  Involving young people and the local community increases their understanding of design, the built environment and also the value of the amazing building which is part of their community.

The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and its members.  It is involved in outreach work though its regional offices, working with the public to increase awareness of great architecture and design in the built environment, and the part that architects can play to enrich it.

For further information see RIBA website or contact at: delyth.turner-harriss@riba.org or telephone 01223 566285.

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