Unforgettable Lessons final report: Bristol Design

By Engaging Places | 9 October 2014

Key Stage 3
Geography, History and Design and Technology

Architecture Centre Bristol in partnership with Oak Hill short stay school.

The teacher wanted to increase student:

  • understanding and appreciation of the built environment
  • aspirations for their future career
  • ability to evaluate and justify their opinions
Model of harbour.

Students' model of Bristol harbour © CABE


Oak Hill is a short stay school in North Somerset. The mission was to develop building designs for a piece of derelict land on the Bristol harbour-side, taking into account all the different needs of the local community. The project began with a discussion about the built environment in all its variety and complexity. The students were introduced to a variety of design concepts. They were encouraged to think about the different things that contribute to a well-designed place where people enjoy spending time.

The students visited many historical and contemporary buildings and documented their experiences in words and images. From these early, extremely open experiences, the project moved on to a host of more focussed activities including visits to an architect’s office and a visit to a new school under construction. This latter experience proved particularly rewarding, as the students began to ask informed questions and give constructive criticism.

A project that began with the question ‘what is architecture?’ remained true to this spirit of open enquiry despite the many challenges this involved. Students remained engaged with the project right to the end. Its impact could be seen in an impromptu visit to a new development, where the students had the confidence to question the developers and to feel that their opinions mattered. By the end of the project there was a tangible sense of an improved confidence and engagement in new learning experiences. The final result was that each student designed and created a model development for the disused land in Bristol.

Read more about how this project developed.

Read the students' thoughts on the project.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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