Transforming the Future of East London

Creative Wick was commissioned by Laing O’Rourke to design and run a 5 week program of innovative workshops for Gainsborough Primary School year 6 students that used art and design to introduce possible career opportunities in the construction industry. The workshops asked students to design and build models of their own buildings and were accompanied by a publication and culminated in an exhibition at Here East.


Workshop 1: Introduction to Construction was an architect-led art and design field trip of Hackney Wick and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where students were asked to look at and think about the various different construction typologies in and around the Park:  the Olympic Stadium, Copper Box Arena, Velodrome, London Aquatic Centre, The ArcelorMittal Orbit, Tumbling Bay, East Village, Chobham Manor and Stratford High Street. Students were asked to consider the design and construction of the Park’s landscaping, roads and bridges. Architect Richard Brown gave pupils a brief introduction to the practice of architecture and using examples of Hackney Wick’s factories, offices,flats and studios, asked them to consider how buildings have an identity based on their purpose as well as the variety of materials that can be used in their construction.  Pen Pushers art collective then helped students start to sketch out some initial ideas.

Workshop 2: Building Design & Function asked students to consider the different buildings that make up a town or city and the different uses that each building can have. Andrew Lock from Lyn Atelier architects gave an introduction to Hub67 which he designed and explained how it had been built as a temporary community centre using 80% recycled materials from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Workshop 3: Landscape, Environment & Nature considered the importance of landscape, environment and nature in the construction process and took place in the RHS Great British Garden in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The Legacy Corporation arranged for Dr Philip Askew, the Landscape Architect, Urban Designer and Horticulturalist responsible for the Park to speak to the group.
Students were impressed to learn that one of the designers of the garden was only 11 years old. Layla Conway and Victoria Stonebridge from the Legacy Corporation then talked about the importance of green spaces from a social and environmental perspective and Juliana Postarini from Laing O’Rourke talked about key environmental considerations for the construction industry. The session ended with a fun pond-life and bug hunt with Catherine Norris and Ryan Mills from The Landscape Group that allowed students to learn about the different creatures that can be found in some of the waterways and green spaces inside the Park.

Workshop 4: The Build
Pen Pushers returned with foam board, plastic domes, coloured paper and cardboard to use in the construction of their models. Students were taught creative techniques to bring their designs to life. The plans and designs from workshop 2 were returned to the teams who then spent the session using the skills and knowledge learned throughout the project to construct the model of their building ready to be exhibited together, in some cases, with the surrounding landscape.

Workshop 5: Digital Engineering & Technology in Construction began with a general introduction to the role of technology in our everyday lives and to the concept of using technology in construction by Nick Featherstone from Laing O’Rourke. Ryan Donoghue then discussed the use of technology in the concept, design and construction phases of a build including digital engineering and
off-site manufacturing. Digital artist Tom Szirtes then introduced the concepts of virtual and augmented realities through new technologies like Oculus Rift. Students then returned to their groups and used the Sketch Up program to create digital 3D models of their buildings and had the opportunity to experience the virtual reality of Oculus Rift for themselves.

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