Homes take Shape

Architecture Week 2005

“I wanted to thank you and the rest of your team for your work here. The children have been talking about it ever since and learned so much. Staff were also really impressed by your presentation in assembly."


Over 180 pupils have been reached by Shape’s outreach workshop programme during the last academic year.

As part of Architecture Week 2005, Shape - the architecture and built environment centre in the East of England - presented "Organic Houses" architecture workshops for Primary children in Cambridge and the surrounding region.

‘Organic Houses’ is designed for Key Stage 2 pupils and their teachers, the workshops provide children with the opportunity to work in small teams to design and make 3-d scale models of energy-efficient houses which make the best use of water, resources and waste. Inspired by their knowledge of green plants, the water cycle and the relationship between planet Earth and the Sun, participating children were encouraged to think of a building as a living system.

“Organic Houses” workshops can be used to introduce curriculum topics, or to re-enforce pupils existing knowledge. Links between Science, Geography, DT and Art are made during the course of a workshop. Planned in conjunction with the Class Teacher, “Organic Houses” workshops are day-long, whole class activities .

Ben Koralek of Shape:

"With the hundreds of thousands of new houses proposed for - and being built in the East of England, there's never been a more important time to engage young people in the design process for housing, and to help them understand how we might build new, more environmentally-friendly homes fit for the 21st century."

Shape has been delivering "Organic Houses" workshops as part of its Learning programme since its launch in 2003. Shape works with architects, designers, artists and construction professionals in the delivery of its work in schools.

"Architects can help us look at the world with fresh eyes. Working with an architect, builder or housing professional for a day brings a whole new perspective to understanding the built environment for children and young people. Architecture Week plays a huge role in bringing the general public and architects together to find a common language; and shape's work in schools is designed to create imaginative opportunities for this kind of exchange,"

"Organic Houses" is presented in conjunction with the CITB-ConstructionSkills "Construction Awards Scheme".

The workshops were sponsored by CITB-ConstructionSkills and Cambridge City Council and also presented as part of the CambridgeChildren's Festival (June 13-18).

Shape is also ran their ‘Making Neighbourhoods” workshop series for senior schools giving students an opportunity to explore key planning issues at the heart of proposals for urban extensions on the ‘fringe’ areas of Cambridge.

The workshops at Coleridge Community College, Cambridge and Parkside Community College, Cambridge were funded by the City of Cambridge and were planned in conjunction with members of the Environment & Planning department from Cambridge City Council.

The workshops:

Created an opportunity for young people to understand and inform the issues and pressures on the planning, design and construction of new neighbourhoods
Empowered them with the confidence and vocabulary with which to articulate their aspirations for a better built environment
Created a resource with which to further explore priorities from the perspective of young people

A final presentation of Making Neighbourhoods took place at the Guildhall in Cambridge .

The work of the students was shown to an invited audience of adults and built environment professionals engaged in the delivery of the Local Plan and those areas in question from the southern fringe area.

The students gave a special presentation in which they re-assembled – in stages - a large 3-d map of the local site articulating the rationale underpinning their planning decisions within the context of the large map on the floor.

© Ben Koralek Shape The Built Environment Education Trust 2005