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Summer School

Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, with 40% of its population under the age of 25 and plenty of career opportunities for Millennials and Gen Z which delivers a graduate retention rate of 46%.

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 MEPC who we are working with to deliver Paradise, which is one of the most complex and strategic urban sites in Britain.

Our diverse group of 16 students from across the UK, were set the brief to design a new Pavilion building, to be used to attract people into the city, and add a new dimension to Paradise as an exciting destination for use during the day and evening.

During their week with us the students were led by our own young architecture team and went on a site visit to Two Chamberlain Square and Paradise, attended masterclasses on architectural drawing and interior design and had a talk about careers in architecture and design, before 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, Ross Fittall and Andy Bushell from MEPC and our home team of Glenn Howells, Simon Pope, Francesca Ghavami and Sudhir Sehdeva.

We were blown away by their creativity and enthusiasm. Ideas included underground golf course, climbing walls, creative workshops, yoga studio, café/restaurant, art gallery, cinema and live music ‘busking’ venue. 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:

“Prior to this work experience, I was unaware of how many different jobs there was within architecture and following the week I am definitely considering it as a future career.”

“It was a splendid week and I really enjoyed it. It was calm and relaxing, I absolutely loved it.”

“It was a fun experience which gave me an insight to the journey I would go through if I were to take up architecture as a future job.”

Ross Fittall, of MEPC said: “The students were a joy to work with. Well-informed, enthusiastic and passionate about the built environment, they understood exactly what we were looking for and gave us fresh ideas and definite food for thought about what we can achieve at Paradise in the future. They were an inspiring and talented group of local students, and it was a privilege to be invited by Howells and I’m sure this initiative will help positively influence their future careers.”

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