NLA Summer Academy

Wednesday 2 August 2017

© Juliana Vasquez

New London Architecture launched a new offer for 14-19 year olds this July with the first NLA Summer Academy for those with an interest in pursuing careers in architecture and planning.

This unique opportunity for teenagers considering a career in the Built Environment marks the start of a new programme of after school and holiday workshops, talks and tours for young people with a burgeoning passion for building design and construction. The Learning programme, which is a joint initiative between New London Architecture and The City Centre, aims to turn young people's initial interest in the property and development sector into a life-long career by nurturing their talents, expanding their knowledge and enhancing their skills.

The Summer programme engaged 15 young participants who had the rare chance to spend a week during their holidays meeting a whole range of professionals representing every role from developer to architecture tutor at all levels of their career from associate director to part 1 trainee.

The week was entirely free for students to attend. They learnt how buildings shape our city, our environment and our way of life through a range of hands-on practical activities, and got access to our 1:200 scale model of London. They were given the chance to learn all about the concept of placemaking and propose their own ideas for activating the site of a real new development Millenium Mills, Silvertown at Royal Docks.

At the beginning of the week the young people were given an exclusive tour of the East London brownfield site by developer First Base and conducted a site analysis to scope out the site’s potential. They learnt about the Silvertown Partnership’s real scheme before embarking on several other inspiring trips and independent research informed by NLA publications, insight studies and exhibitions. They had a tour around other developing areas of Royal Docks, visited the V&A architecture galleries and Battersea Power Station.

To develop their ideas into proposals they produced drawings, models, 3D digital designs and presentations in a series of practical workshops. Gardiner & Theobald supplied boardroom space in their offices next to NLA for icebreaker activities and a Sketch Up workshop on day one. Later on in the week participants attended a placemaking charrette facilitated by Broadway Malyan at their Southbank studio.

On the final day of the course students took part in a speed mentoring session facilitated by Gardiner & Theobald where they were able to get their questions answered by those working in the field, being exposed to the various stories, expertise and enthusiasms of a diverse group of over 15 built environment professionals.

These volunteers then stayed around with the young peoples’ friends, family and NLA guests to hear the groups give their final presentations, displaying their work in the NLA galleries. Each group’s idea was distinct, innovative and fresh. They worked incredibly hard and produced designs that were full of detail informed by the history of the site and the placemaking principles they had been taught. Across the board their work demonstrated they had taken full advantage of all the opportunities to learn offered to them during the week. As well as adding valuable material to their portfolios and CVs the participants will now also have the opportunity to inspire others on 12th August when they have been asked to present their final ideas to an audience of their peers at Futureopolis, an architecture festival for young people held at the V&A.

The NLA youth programme will continue in the Autumn with more opportunities for young people to engage in the built environment of their city. 

By Lettie McKie, Head of Learning, New London Architecture and The City Centre 

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