Taking place as part of our residency at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), the ‘Design for Life’ workshop invited school-aged participants and challenged them to design a new suburban neighbourhood for a community of flexible workers using the V&A galleries as inspiration.
We commissioned each group of six to transform a typical communal building or meeting place into a new design that catered specifically to the needs of workers based primarily at home. The building assignments ranged from the community staples, like a library and a local playground, to an aspirational outdoor concert area; nevertheless, every structure would play a crucial role in our master urban plan, which would only be realised at the end of the workshop when we would assemble each group’s model on the giant neighbourhood floor plan laid out in the auditorium.
In the interests of fairness, we allotted the model structures to each group using a tried and tested method of impartiality and temporary suspense: the trusty mystery brown envelope.
With their torn-open brown envelopes in hand, we packed the kids off to explore the V&A’s galleries for inspiration, instructing them to return to the Sackler Centre in an hour to create a model of their building assignment.
British supermodel and guest judge Erin O’Conner arrived when the kids were in the process of piecing their models together, going from group to group to uncover their approach to design and creativity.
When the designs were finished, each group brought their model to the auditorium, where we placed them together on the floor plan to form a model neighbourhood.
The end result was an eclectic mix of buildings of different sizes and different materials. Putting the case for rational urban planning to one side, we invited a representative from each group to talk us through their designs.
Following the presentations, Erin and David Anderson, Director of Learning and Interpretation at the V&A, recognised the efforts of our young participants and awarded each of them with a certificate to commemorate their taking part in the Design for Life programme. The workshop drew to a close with Q&A session with Erin, David and Aberrant Architecture, where the kids explored our respective career paths.
Victoria & Albert Museum
South Kensington, London