Arkki an architecture school for children

Arkki an architecture school for children

Arkki is an interesting non profit, the first school in Finland specialising in providing after school architectural and environmental eduction for children and young adults.

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The weekly architectural clubs are tailored for each age range. 4-6 year olds learn about architecture, nature, light, colours and shapes through play and imaginative projects like model making. 7-14 year olds explore issues like ecology and sustainability as well as cultural history and the impact of tradition in design. They also analyse the spatial experience and use their senses to experiment with space.

As they get old the topics become more complex, by the time they reach the 14-18 year old age group they explore design problems from small scale like designing door handles to the larger designing houses and city planning. They also learn about architectural history and contemporary architecture.

Around 500 children between the age of 4-19 participate in the courses on a long term bases. They also run short term courses every year.

They use a range of methods including models, 1:1 scale, using their senses to experience architecture and digital tools. Play is essential as it is the way children explore the world and learn natural, so a playful approach allows the kids to use their imagination, intelligence and experiment.

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Find out more on their website arkki.net

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The difference between a job, career and calling- Elle Luna on Design Matters

I first learned about Elle Luna (such a great name) reading about the 100 days Project on The Great Discontent. https://thegreatdiscontent.com/100days. A 100 days of making.
This podcast with Debbie Millman is wide ranging but I particularly liked hearing Elle talk about finding what you love to do, work work and fun work.

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Creative Industries Federation panel notes

Creative Industries Federation panel notes

Great panel from across the creative sector in Scotland.
Absolutely loved Janice Kirpatrick from Graven. She hit the nail right on the head with her discourse on why education needs to include enterprise (she started Graven instead of doing industrial placement), digital as a package for analogue (it stills needs people) and why we need less ‘spreadsheet monkeys’ numbers are symbols of other kinds of values.
Why do creative industries need to justify their value? This question kept coming up. Defence doesn’t have to justify spending $400 million on fighter jets that don’t work properly as Krishna from RSNO said.
It got me thinking about;
How schools can encourage multidisciplinary thinking and engagement (I’ve met more artists, illustrators, designers working than I did at University)
Here are my notes 🙂
Creative Industries Federation panel notes
The Civic Shop_ shopping for good

The Civic Shop_ shopping for good

Based in the new wing of Somerset House the Civic Shop is a retail space that “showcases the work of a new generation of civic activists and social designers – inventors of new public spaces, new economies and champions of public good in everyday life.” It is run by a group of people looking at ways to reframe our everyday experiences, socially and physically. The group includes, Cassie Robinson, Snook,Women’s Engineering Society and Future Gov.


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They explore and question the relationship between the commercial and civic sphere. By civic they refer to public space and how that is becoming more and more privatised and commercialised today. Community centres and public libraries are shutting down, even town squares are being closed off. Civic functions are starting to take notes from corporate spheres in order to increase “efficiency” and “productivity”.

The store is designed to encourage people to explore questions such as “Has the world of commerce encroached too much on our civic spaces, and how much do we care?” There are items for sale as well as things that are free and the money generated goes back to the causes that inspired the products. It is interesting that they use a familiar typology, retail, as a way to engage and inform the public about social and civic initiatives as well as to question what is happened around us. Cassie also makes a weekly podcast, which explores the wider discourse.

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Here are some of the participants

A-Z Genova Project

A-Z Genova Project– 26 Urban interactions in 2 days. The project explored Genova as a city in decline, where the built environment is increasingly seen as a challenge. The interest was in how interpretation shapes our reality, and ways to adapt perception to mediate change. Taking inspiration from an Italian phrase used to call for change, “Cambiare dalla a alla zeta / Change from a to z”, the city was framed using the alphabet. Each letter identifying theme of the city, with an interaction created to make a new perspective. For example the response for G for Gardens was to create mini gardens.



A-Z genova project

Dearest Scotland

Dearest Scotland is an apolitical campaign crowdsourcing future visions of Scotland for a common good. They ask people to write a letter “dearest Scotland” to the future citizens of the country. Be it literal, fictional, poetic or metaphoric. Run by Snook in Glasgow, letters are collected, published and shared with the world. The aim is to give citizens a platform to share their thoughts and voice that is often not shown in the media. They recently successfully ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 of funding to publish a book of Dearest Scotland letters.

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KindSigns

Started by the Noun Project, KindSigns is a movement using signage as a force for good. The Noun Project is on a mission to create, share and celebrate the worlds visual language. They started KindSigns a series of open sourced design workshops where participants get the chance to create their own personalised KindSign and place it at a location they choose and inspire others around them.

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8 things I learned from Architecture School

8 things I learned from Architecture School

Architecture school is definitely an experience like no other. I ended up going to 3 schools, in London, Glasgow and Vienna. A mix of traditional universities and arts schools, each with it’s own approach. Architecture students were the same everywhere working all day and sometimes night, the studio’s buzzing with chat and creativity. I ended up making some life long friends and learning a lot not only about design but about an approach to life. Here are some great things I learned from architecture school.

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1. Presentation is important

Not only how you talk about your work but also how you visually depict it. We live in a highly visual age and if you can explain your idea visually it makes a huge impact. I also found that how you talk about your work makes a difference to how it’s perceived. It’s about having confidence in your ideas and work.

2. There is no correct answer

There are of course some things that you see that make no sense but good design is highly subjective, it takes for every to realise this but with creative courses like architecture there is no right answer. We all bring our own perspective that is formed by our experiences. This can be hard to see sometimes because each school has their own way of thinking about design, be it contextual, theoretical, narrative based or technical.

3. Choose your heroes carefully

every school has the people or offices they reference constantly and you absorb them by osmosis. The internet also make it easy to spend time swiping through beautiful photographs of buildings but a photograph cannot tell you as much as actually visiting the building can do.

4. Failure is part of learning

I failed second year and at the time it felt like the worst thing, however it ended up being a fantastic opportunity to take time away from intense study, explore what I wanted to do and even earn some money. I ended up learning so much in that time.

5. Fear is stifling

Some architecture schools seem to think they need to put the fear of God in students. Separate the wheat from the chaff, e.t.c e.tc, but I truly believe that fear is the biggest killer of creativity. It causes people to play it safe it afraid to take risks in case they “fail.” But failing is a step to succeeding.

6. How to do late nights

This is definitely one of the first things you learn at architecture, how to stay up all working all night. Especially around final deadlines and reviews. You end up sleeping in the studio and drinking a lot of energy drinks. It’s almost a badge of honour for architecture students and even working architects.

7. To have a life outside of the studio

I found that doing things outside of the studio gave me so much balance and perspective. I took salsa classes, joined the fashion society and took classes in other departments when I could. It was a tough one because architecture students like medical students often stick with people from their course and the intense hours make it almost impossible to do anything outside the course.

8. Don’t wait for permission

It took me till my final year, when I decided to do my final project on a slum in Lagos, Nigeria. I was on exchange in Vienna and the thesis tutor asked us to say the first project that came to our head when we thought about what we wanted to do. It was so refreshing to learn to just go for it, trust my instincts and not worry about how it’d end up. It was amazing.

Here’s a great post on Archi-ninja of the 10 things they don’t teach you in architecture school.

Image via realstarchitectssleeparound.tumblr.com/

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies aka Ministry of Stories

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies aka Ministry of Stories

Hoxton street monster supplies aka Ministry of Stories is a fantastic project in London’s East End. Hoxton Street Monster Supplies provides monster themed goods like dragon food and the thickest human snot. It is a front for the Ministry of Stories a writing program that inspires 8-18 years olds through the power of story telling.

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It was started as a pilot project by Lucy McNab, Ben Payne and Alistair Hall. Inspired to start one after attending a workshop on running a not-for-profit organisation by Dave Eggers founding member of 826 Valencia, the first of this type of program. 826 Valencia was opened in 2002 in San Francisco  the location they got for their planned literacy workshops was zoned for retail so they needed to sell something. They came up with a pirate themed shop with writing workshops at the back. The idea proved so popular that chapters sprung across the U.S from superheroes in New York to outer space in Seattle.

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Lucy and Ben were able to secure seed funding from the Arts Council and JJ Charitable Trust but it all took off when author Nick Hornby joined them. They soon set up shop in Hackney, East London with the aim to inspire a nation of storytellers.

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As a charity model it is a fascinating one. The money generated from the shop goes to running the workshops which are staffed entirely by a team of volunteers. It provides a mix of talented people the opportunity to do a range of things from building websites to advising on financial matters. Fundraising is still important and they have created fun ways to support them, for example you can buy your own ministerial position. Emma Thompson is minister for Imaginative Naughtiness.

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Design is one of the key focus. As Lucy McNab says “the quality of design is a really important part of creating the fiction.” Lucy and Ben are co-directors with Alistair as creative director. One of their rules is that everything that is sold works or can be eaten. Production is small, meaning that each idea is carefully thought out and researched. They sometimes collaborate with others, Studio Weave produced Salt Made from Tears. The packaging is simple and thoughtful and the spaces are beautifully designed. The workshop spaces include wall illustrations made by Heather Sloane.

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Design runs through not only the monster themed products and lovely shop design but also the very high standard of work they produce with young people. From newspapers to books and plays. Taking this professional approach teaches the young participants how to take an idea from that moment of inspiration to the finished product. They produced the Awfully a Bad Guide to Monster Housekeeping written by the children with the help of poets and writers in the workshop.

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For both children and adults it is a place that encourages them to use their imagination. I would love to see a program like it in here in Glasgow, but for now I for one will definitely be checking them out when I’m next in London.

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For more information check out their website

Ministry of Stories http://www.ministryofstories.org/

Horton street monster supplies http://www.monstersupplies.org/

Friday Fashion find: Kuyichi jeans

Friday Fashion find: Kuyichi jeans

My favourite pair of jeans are these by Kuyichi.
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They are super comfy, easy to wear and a perfect fit. Even better they are an eco-friendly company, with all Kuyichi’s clothing being made organically and with fair trade. Truly “Style Conscious”
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Check out their clothes on their online store 🙂

 

Studio Weave_ Making things the best versions of themselves

Studio Weave_ Making things the best versions of themselves

“Making things the best versions of themselves…. how can we make it the most eventuated, most wonderful version of itself… rather than trying to make Romford Copenhagen”

Studio Weave are a London-based architecture practice that are doing some fantastic and beautiful work. Started by Maria Smith and Je Ahn. They have a passion for narrative as a tool for designing, engaging with people and a love of making which has allowed Studio Weave to deliver projects that nurture a strong sense of place.

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What I love about their projects is the sense of joy and playfulness that is evident. Each project is unique yet there seems to be a sense of the fantastical and craftmanship that runs through every project.

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Salt made from tears- a product for the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
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The lullaby factory- Great Ormond Street hospital
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The Lullaby Factory- a whimsical production of music at Great Ormond Street hospital
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The Ecology of Colour- located on an ecology island, the space is for a craft workshop that uses plants to make dyes
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ELMO- a mobile studio funded by the LLDC, it moved around east London boroughs from summer 2013 to summer 2014
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House of Fairytales- finalist entry to Hans Christian Andersen House of Fairytales

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I remember the lovely lecture Maria Smith gave at the Mackintosh School of Architecture a couple of years ago.

And check out Maria Smith’s writings for the Riba Journal. They are brilliantly funny and irreverent 🙂

It is essential that everyone in the town, including those that will be dead by the time the project begins construction, is happy with every aspect of all the proposals. We have therefore carried out extensive community engagement over the last 50 years. This has resulted in reams of fantastically useless questionnaires that the council does not have the resources or intelligence to interpret, and consultation fatigue on a spectacular scale. Last year alone saw three deaths that have been linked to pointless questionnaires.

Maria Smith, from the article Civic Slide on RIBA Journal

Taking it to the street

Taking it to the street

Lately I’ve been exploring  some really interesting projects and organisations that have a focus on community and empowering young people to get out there and change their environment. Encouraging learning by doing. I’ve compliled a list of the projects I’ve discovered so far, here’s Part 1. They are definitely worth checking out!

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The Building Hero project

Building Hero Project in Philadelphia empowers young people to be community change makers and leaders, by educating them in design and entrepreneurship. The group meet a couple of weekday afternoons at the department of Making + Doing in West Philadelphia. They aim to make their neighbourhoods better places to live through design, so public spaces are central to the program. The ‘heroes’ learn through designing, making and selling products that improve public spaces, homes and everyday lives.  For example one bench was originally designed to be put in neighbourhoods that lacked public space. A really simple way to transform public space.

The Building Hero project has an interesting and highly sustainable funding model. They sell the products designed on their highly successful Etsy store. The money raised from the Etsy store means that they are able to fund the program, covering material and tool costs, pay a Building Hero and help the program grow.

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Project M 

Started in Alabama, Project M goes by the tag line “thinking wrong”. Inspired by architect Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio, graphic designer John Bielenberg started the program to inspire designers,and creatives from a range fo fields to use their work to positively impact communities.

Similar to the Building Hero Project participants are encouraged to experience being social entrepreneurs by going out there and making. Not to wait for permission or a project. . The sessions run for two- four weeks with a groups of 10 people, and there are shorter projects 48 hour “blitzes”. The groups have to identify a problem and solve it. By finding something that is meaningful, something they are passionate about and figure out a way to do it. The resulting projects include Pie Lab, a space for conversation and design. It started small as with Project M members standing in a street corner and handing out slices of pie to passers-by with the idea to spur community and conversation, one slice at a time. It has since grown to a local cafe with a space for designers.

Tog studio
Tog Studio is a live-build summer school, started by Scottish architecture and engineering graduates to meet the gaps in traditional education. The emphasis is on practical building skills and collaboration on real life projects in beautiful locations.

Tog is a gaelic word that means ‘build’ ‘raise’ educate and ‘excite’. Their projects aim to inspire self builders, in 2013 the team built a boathouse for the Tiree Maritime trust.

I find these projects so inspiring. Their real life problem solving initiatives and balance of education, action and entrepreneurship is wonderful to see and the positive impacts they are making in their communities.

 

If you know of other interesting projects let me know and I’ll check them out! And keep an eye out for Part 2 🙂