Budding artists not ‘out of PLACE’ at art design school

Niamh McConway and Judith Ferguson
Niamh McConway and Judith Ferguson

PLACE, the Architecture and Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland, launched its first Urban Design Summer School for 14-19 year olds this summer, a component of the ‘out of PLACE’ vacant units project.

The Summer School were lucky to have Derry girl Niamh McConway and Limavady girl Judith Ferguson join them for the week. They were both strong candidates for the best sketchbook and best photo of the week and were in the winning team for group of the week.

The Summer School was based in the ground floor of the Obel Tower in Belfast city centre. The space was kindly donated by the Karl Group, providing a prime location for those interested in the built environment, with views along the Lagan to the old 19th Century Custom House and the striking 21st Century Titanic Belfast.

The PLACE summer school aimed to get young people together to discuss ‘What Belfast is missing…’ Using this overarching question the school hosted a number of themed days based on topics including; public art, planning and site analysis, sketching and model building and urban design. These themes provoked thoughts and discussions, but also provided the group with an insight into the roles of those who currently work to develop our built environments. Twenty seven participants from across Northern Ireland and as far away as Cardiff participated in a week of creative fun.

Local Architect and Director of PLACE, Aidan McGrath said: “It’s not our objective to encourage these 27 young people into a career in architecture or town planning...we’re just hoping to make them, and their friends and families...more discerning, more critical of the built environment and more demanding of those professionals and politicians who deliver it.”

“Of course we’ve had fun, memories of three teenagers acting out The Sydney Opera House in architectural charades will never leave me, but we’ve done some hard work too: we’ve looked at public art and planning issues a well as architecture.”

The week was a huge success, with plans already taking shape for next years Summer School. The week directly influenced many participants wishing to pursue a career in the Built Environment with a handful deciding they want to enter into the world of public art. This project was funded by Arts and Business Northern Ireland and the week was documented through sketches, photos and model making workshops, which are currently on display in PLACE.

For further information contact PLACE via: www.placeni.org, or by telephone on: 90 232524, or by email on: info@placeni.org