I am a firm believer that if we’re going to enable an industry to adopt new concepts for buildings – Active Buildings, that generate energy and manage their interactions with local and national grid networks – it is critical that we engage with the next generation of designers and constructors. This time last year, I worked with first year architectural students at a local architecture school in Swansea (UWTSD) to design a modern house as part of their technology module, where the students were asked to design an Active House. The students were issued with a first draft of my developing design guide as well as supplementary information as they progressed through the 10-week project. At the end of the project, they had all increased their awareness of how to design climate-resilient buildings that make the most of passive design and renewable energy, learnings they could take on to their next projects and use throughout their career.
Due to the success of this project, I was asked to return this year to repeat the project with the next cohort of students. The timescales for the module fitted in very well with the timescales of a “Young Person’s Design Challenge”, part of the UK Government funded, Home of 2030 project, which has a deadline of 28th February 2020. So, we decided to align our project with the competition criteria and give the students the opportunity to enter a national design competition. The project will have three purposes for the students: to complete their technology module; to test my Design Guide; and to enter a national design competition.
Today we had our kick-off meeting for the 8-week project. The group of students visited the Active Classroom and the Active Office, where I gave them a short presentation on Active Buildings, the impact of buildings on climate, an introduction to the project and a tour of the buildings. The students were issued with an “Active Building Student Guide” (version 1, i.e. a first draft) and an “Active Building Worked Example” (a case study of the Active Classroom linked to the RIBA Plan of Work Stages), as well as the project brief. I asked the students to complete a questionnaire at the start of the workshop, before they received any detail on the project, to determine their level of knowledge at the project outset.
I will assess their knowledge throughout the project and will ask for their feedback on my Design Guide – Does it contain enough information? Is all the information relevant? Is the information pitched at the right level? Is it easy to understand? What about the structure of the guide? The visual appearance? Is it easy to use? etc, etc. At the end of the project, the students will not only have worked together on their competition entry, they will have considered the important factors for a Home of 2030, they will have learnt to incorporate renewable energy and passive design elements into their designs, they will think of buildings as being a part of the energy network, with the use of smart controls, energy storage and electric vehicles…and hopefully will have enjoyed the experience!
I will post updates throughout.