Birmingham Pupils Design Library And Theatre Complex Of The Future

Birmingham Pupils Design Library And Theatre Complex Of The Future

Young people from four Birmingham schools have just celebrated the culmination of a ten-week engineering and architecture project called Future Vision, which has seen them develop designs for a library and theatre complex of the future. Taking inspiration from the new £188.8 million Library of Birmingham, which will be joined to Birmingham Repertory Theatre, they have been working with engineers from Midlands-based construction company, Carillion, and local engineering firms, Thomasons and Stewart & Harris. Birmingham architecture firm, Hunt Feneley, led the initiative and helped the pupils develop their designs.

Over the course of the project, which was funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grants scheme and delivered in partnership with Bright Space, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Mecanoo (architects for the Library of Birmingham project), the children took part in ten sessions during which they learnt about the planning, design and engineering processes involved in creating a major new building. They also explored what a library is, whether they need to adapt to meet the demands of the modern world, and if ‘library’ will be the right way to describe them in the future.

To provide inspiration for their designs and to help them understand the impact that buildings can have on an area, the pupils from Small Heath, Swanshurst and Turves Green Boys schools plus Harborne Academy visited both the Library of Birmingham and Birmingham Repertory Theatre construction site, as well as architectural projects in the UK and further afield.

Pupils went on to develop designs for their own library and theatre of the future by sketching ideas, testing them with a 3D programme and producing models of the buildings to check potential design issues and investigate possible problems with the planned structure.

Professor Christopher Bishop FREng, Chair of the Ingenious funding panel and Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research in Cambridge says: “Ingenious is all about giving today’s practicing engineers the necessary tools to help engage the wider public in the important and exciting world of engineering. This Future Vision project is a perfect example of how the young people from these four Birmingham schools have been given an insight into every aspect of what it takes to create a large building such as a library or theatre. If it has put the seed into their minds that engineering is a fantastic career choice, then the whole project has been worthwhile.

Brian Gambles, Project Director for the Library of Birmingham, which backed the initiative, adds: “We are delighted to have been involved in this project as it helps bring to life the impact that the new Library of Birmingham will have on the city for these young people. The group have been given a real insight into the plans for the new Library and I hope they now can’t wait for it to open in 2013. I know that their involvement in Future Vision has inspired and challenged them and, for some, perhaps even encouraged them to pursue engineering or architecture as a career.”

Steve Ball, Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, says: “Birmingham is a great international city. The Future Vision project provides a wonderful opportunity for young people to engage with design and architecture in other European cities in a meaningful and exciting way.”

Andy Hunt, who led the project, says: “Architecture and engineering are critical to society, the built environment influences all activities in our lives. These pupils have shown great enthusiasm throughout the project and shown an eagerness to be involved in how places are made. I hope some will become the next generation of Birmingham’s designers.”