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Summer School 2023

Inspiring young people to work in architecture and design is one of the most important things we can do as a practice, and each year we host a Summer School in our Birmingham studio, to demonstrate what a creative, fulfilling, and exciting career choice architecture can be. The event is open to secondary school children aged 14–18 years old, who are just beginning to think about their future career choices.

This year we partnered with Lendlease and Birmingham City Council who are overseeing the redevelopment of Smithfield in central Birmingham.

The diverse group of 15 students from across the West Midlands were set the brief to design a new pavilion building that will be near the new home of the Smithfield Markets, adding an exciting new building to a key area of the site.

During their week with us the students were coached by our own Architectural Assistants and went on a site visit to Smithfield, attended masterclasses on architectural drawing and interior design, received a talk on careers in architecture and design, before then developing their sketch designs and making their own models with our in-house modelmaking team.

The week culminated with each student presenting their idea as part of a ‘design review’ to their clients Selina Mason of Lendlease and Simon Delahunty-Forest of Birmingham City Council, and our home team of Glenn Howells and Sudhir Sehdeva.

The creativity and enthusiasm from the group blew us away, with ideas ranging from vertical farms and night-clubs to community hubs inspired by the Coliseum and books. All the students put sustainability at the heart of their projects with rainwater collection systems, solar panels, green roofs, biophilia and wind turbines all on offer.

Feedback from the students has been overwhelmingly positive, with comments including:

“It’s been better than I expected. I thought it might be like a typical work experience where you just shadow someone, but this has been a lot more hands-on and a lot more informative. We got to meet people that I didn’t think we’d get to meet, like Glenn Howells and we’ve had some good conversations with important people."

“The week has been a really good experience. There aren’t many architectural experiences in Birmingham. I’ve done engineering before but not specifically architecture so that’s been really rewarding for me.”

“Presentation skills are something I’ve definitely gained from the week. Normally I do make things and create things but then I don’t really get the opportunity to explain what I’ve made, instead of just showing what I’ve made, I’ve been able to explain my thinking.”

Selina Mason, of Lendlease said: “It was a pleasure to work with these young people and their enthusiasm for their home city and the task at hand was so rewarding. They gave us all fresh perspectives on what we should be delivering at Smithfield and I hope the week at Howells has helped them in their future careers.”

Simon Delahunty-Forest, of Birmingham City Council, commented: “Some of the designs from these young people were fantastic and inspiring. The breadth of creativity on show, from drawings, and ideas, to communicating their thoughts and modelmaking really was a pleasure to witness.”

Applications for next year’s Summer School will go live in February 2024 and be advertised on our website.

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