Open City London Accelerate into University

Andra Antone discusses her recent involvement with the Open City London Accelerate into University programme.

Open City London
Open City London

“The work produced by both students was raw and explosive but extremely high quality.  Clear thought ran through their ideas, but refreshingly not academically calculated or overworked.”

For those unfamiliar with Open City London’s work, the recognised charity celebrates great architecture, supporting Londoner’s to have a greater stake in the development and maintenance of their city.  The organisation’s range of education programmes inspire young people to explore cities through buildings, developing their creative skills both in and outside of the classroom.

Andrea Deng and I have been heavily involved in the Accelerate into University mentoring programme aimed at increasing diversity in the architecture profession.  The leap from school to university can be a daunting but this scheme gives students the confidence and skills to make strong applications to study architecture at university.

Having already established the students had a prior interest in architecture, our sessions aimed to broaden their thinking, whether that be architecture and study routes or subjectively exploring the world in which we live.

Open City London
Open City London

As an immersive introduction, and to avoid scaring off our two 16 year old students we began outside of the classroom with a focus on sketching in a high sensory environment where work would stem around nature and sustainability.

Our choice of subject was the British Museum, sketching corners and learning the basics on understanding spaces.  Both students dived straight in impressing us with their enthusiasm, subsequently also causing myself to view the subject in a new perspective.

Our second session, this time occurring in the office environment, allowed the students to give their studies meaning through a small project – even pitching to Andrew Costa, partner at Ryder. Not only did this evolve their ideas into 3D models and structures, but it developed confidence and offered a tangible goal.

The final session focussed on context in the development stages and came with impressive results.  We delved into the story behind the sustainability of the project and how interior design would be incorporated – an area neither student had much experience in but which demonstrated their adaptable personalities once again.

This being unchartered waters for myself too, on reflection the process has allowed me to develop personally, much of this as a direct result from working with such inspiring students.  On a more strategic level, I have gained an appreciation for delegation and having a deeper trust in those working around me.

Looking to the future, both students have been invited back to Ryder on a summer internship allowing them to further build on their prospective futures.  We are all incredibly pleased with how well both engaged throughout the whole project and look forward to working together again soon.

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