Accelerate architecture programme

Building better futures – Barking and Dagenham’s young people take part in architecture exhibition

Young people from Barking and Dagenham have exhibited work they created as part of the Accelerate architecture programme.

The pupils aged between 16-18 years recently took part in a year-long series of architecture workshops aimed at inspiring and educating the next generation of British architects.

In total, 60 students took part in the programme, with 15 coming from Barking and Dagenham as well as a further ten from surrounding boroughs. The aim of the Accelerate programme is to get kids from state schools interested in architecture and to increase diversity in the field.

The workshops culminated in an exhibition of their work at the Design District in Greenwich, where students got to show off the models, drawings and sketches they had made as part of the year-long programme.

For the course, students were given the exciting opportunity to be mentored by an architect, as well as going on several visits to iconic examples of London architecture including Waterloo City Farm and Walmer Yard.

The workshops were also a great way for the 16–18-year-olds to get a taste of university life as they took part in peer-to-peer learning with university students.

The course also had a distinctly local flavour, with the programme kicking off at the Becontree Estate where pupils got to learn about the history and architecture of one of the world’s biggest housing estates.

Half of the 60 strong cohort were sponsored by Be First, the council’s regeneration company, and the council.

Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment & School Improvement, said: “It’s lovely to see the borough’s young people being given the opportunity to take part in a course that is going to give them new experiences and a foundation of knowledge in architecture.

“We want every young person in Barking and Dagenham to be given the opportunity and experience needed to follow their dreams, and by working with educational partners in this way we are doing that.”

Amandeep Singh Kalra, Associate Architect at Be First, said: “Programmes like Accelerate are fundamental to rebalance the inequity in the built environment industry, particularly architecture.

“It’s been fantastic to see these young people flourish over the last year and embark on careers they didn’t know existed; I look forward to hearing about their journeys as they continue to grow”

One of the students who took part, Lamis Etwijer Dkhil, said: “I developed and learnt new skills that I applied throughout my project, these skills helped me develop, create and innovate not only in my project but also daily life.

“I learned various important and new ideas/facts about architecture and the built environment.”

Monica Khalil, another local student who took part said: “I think it really helps push you as an individual, whether it’s going to somewhere new, learning about new resources or seeing projects first hand. It has helped me gain confidence and helped me communicate my ideas much better.”

The Accelerate Programme is run by architecture charity Open City in collaboration with UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, UAL’s Central St. Martin’s and Kingston University’s Knights Park Campus.