Dream Home

Create your favourite character's Dream Room!


Who is your favourite fictional character? Is it someone from a book, a cartoon, a film, the television… is it a superhero? Or maybe you have a favourite toy? 

We want your help to design dream rooms for your favourite characters using recycled materials! 

Photos of all winning entries, as judged by Architectural practitioner Tahmineh Hooshyar Emami from Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, will be collaged into a Dream House where all your favourite characters can live which will be added to the Open City website and sent as a pdf to winning families.

Deadline: Friday 22nd May


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Video example



Step 1: Choose your family's favourite character 

You might need to vote

Step 2: Think like your character


What you will need: scrap paper and pencils. 

Now that you’ve decided on your character, write a list each of what you think your chosen character would want in their dream room. 
Think about: 
— What would be in the room?
— What do they like doing? 
— Could they do this in their dream room? Do they need special equipment/furniture?
Exchange your ideas! Together, agree on what your character would like in their dream room, this is important for when you start reusing your junk and designing the room! 

Step 3: Imagine your character's dream room


What you will need: your collected junk and other materials.

Gather junk. Work as a family to have a good look in your recycling bin, bag or box. What could you use to build your masterpiece? Look out for cereal boxes (and the inside bag), egg boxes, juice cartons, bottles, toilet/kitchen paper/tinfoil rolls, milk bottles, food trays, bubble wrap, soap dispensers, scrap paper/newspapers/magazines, paper/plastic cups etc. Be careful with sharp edges, and make sure food trays and bottles are clean for you to work with. 

Place all your found junk objects and other materials on a table or the floor. Look back at your agreed list of what your character would like in their dream room. Look very carefully at the junk, think about the shapes you can see and how they could be re-imagined in the dream room. You could all make quick sketches of the shapes. TIP: Look at ‘Think Like an Architect’ ideas below. 

Step 4: Design your character's Dream Room


What you will need: your collected junk and other materials, your list of what your character would like in their dream room, scrap paper, pencils.

Sketch some ideas about how your character’s dream room might look! Think about: 

— How big is the room compared to your character?
— Is the room square or a more unusual shape?
— Can your character see out of the room?
— Is it a dark or light room?
— Is it a cosy room? What is the furniture like?
Step 5: Build your character's dream room


What you will need: Your list of what your character would like in their dream room, your design drawings, your junk material and any other materials, scissors, sticky tape, glue.

TIP: Before you start building, have a look at:
— Your design sketches
— The model making tips and techniques below
— Our video of making The Genie’s dream room at the top

Now it’s time to start making! It might take between two hours and two days depending on your model-making techniques, drying time and the size of your model. 
Step 6: Photograph your masterpiece 


What you’ll need: mobile phone camera. 

TIP: Photograph your design sketches and look at our photography suggestions below.


Step 7: Submit your work


Competition deadline: Friday 22nd  May 

Email your photos to education@open-city.org.uk

Please provide your location, surname and age of children. Please let us know which character you’ve designed for! 

Please let us know if a family member works in creative industries, as your entry will be judged in our professional category. 

Key judging criteria: creative use of reused materials and creative engagement with your chosen character.

Draw Like An Architect... things to think about!

Drawings, along with models, help architects visualise what they’re designing. Different types of drawings help to describe different things. To explain let’s use a birthday cup-cake!


A Sketch

A quick 3D drawing (using no ruler) that helps you have an overall view of the cake.

An Elevation

Is a view of the cup-cake from the side.


A Plan

Is a view that shows what the cup-cake looks like when you look down on it from above.


A Section

Is a view that shows what the cup-cake looks like when a cut is made through it.

A Map or Site Plan

Is a view that shows what the cup-cake looks like, in its surroundings (context) when you look down on it from above.

Here are some examples of the same types of drawings used to depict a two-storey house:


An axonometric

An axonometric is a 3D drawing that helps you have an overall view of the house.

An Elevation

A view looks at one side of the house from the outside.

A plan view

Like a bird’s eye view — cutting the roof off and looking down into the house.


A section view

Like a slice through the house.


A map or site plan

A view of the house in context from above — here it shows the house in its street. 


Think Like An Architect... things to think about!


What is a building used for? Is it used to: 

• live in? (a home) 

• work in? (an office) 

• learn in? (a school) 

• play sports in? (a stadium) 

• pray in? (a church, a mosque, a temple) 



Materials are used to make buildings - both the structure and inside and outside surfaces. Materials can be made from naturally occurring substances or man-made products. 

Natural material examples: timber (wood), stone, mud man-made material examples: concrete, bricks, steel, glass. Many of these use a mixture of natural and synthetic substances. 



How big is your chosen building compared to the others close to it? Think how big am I compared to a door, to my home? 



Inside of buildings are lit up by a combination of natural and artificial light. 

Natural Light: Does sunlight come into the building? Are there lots of windows? Are there roof lights? 

Artificial Light: Can you see lots of lightbulbs through the windows? 



How does the building stand up? Think about what holds up the roof? 

Can you see the structure? Clues: does it have steel or timber posts (columns) or beams visible? 




Scale drawings and models

It’s impossible to draw buildings at their real size on paper! Architects, therefore, need to scale down their drawings of buildings, furniture and people to fit on paper. Builders and architects use special scale rulers to measure from scale drawings. 

Think ‘Honey I shrunk the Kids’! Or look at your toy cars and dolls, which are scaled-down by a ratio.

Model Making Tips

Milk Bottles

Milk Bottles2

1. Cut through the middle and around the handle. 

2. Save the lid and other panels of plastic to build other parts of your model.

This technique can be used to make windows, pipes, or rolled up to make columns.



1. Carefully pierce holes in the corners of the pieces of card/paper.

2. Feed the straws through them. You can add as many floors as you can fit!

This technique can be used to make a simple structure of a building.

Egg boxes


1. Cut into the egg box and around the middle spikes and internal egg holder pieces.

2. You could also use the box lid for your model too.

The technique can be used for the top of roofs or facades.

Paper and plastic cups


1. Cut around the cup into as many pieces as you want.

2. Make sure to save all the pieces for different parts of your buildings!

This technique can be used for windows, walls and curved roofs. 

Folding Card

Folding Card

1. Measure a 2/3cm section of the card with a ruler, mark with a pencil and fold.

2. Holding at a 90-degree angle, use glue on the underside of the section and fix to your model base. 

This technique can be used to make internal or external walls.



1. Draw the net pattern on your card/paper.

2. Cut around the lines carefully.

3. Fold together, can glue the edges if you want.

This can be used to make cubes, cuboids, prisms etc... play around with the different shapes!

Rolling card or paper

Rolling Card2

1. Choose size and length of paper or card.

2. Roll into a tight tube and tape along the side.

3. Measuring a small length up the side of the tube, snip several slots along the end and push out to make the base.

This technique can be used as columns.

Card and paper slot joints


1. Cut squares of card/paper to size.

2. Measure through the middle equal lengths, and cut these out. Slot two pieces together.

Good for modular designs – elements that can be added together continuously.



1. Cut the pieces of paper/card in horizontal and vertical directions.

2. Weave them in and out of eachother or layer them on top of eachother.

3. Glue the edges down to make it secure.

This technique can be used for building facades (the front of the building).

Paper mache


1. Mix one part sieved flour, one part water with a wooden spoon in a big bowl until you get a thick glue-like consistency. 

2. Choose your mould and smear a small amount of vaseline to surface.

3. Cut strips of newspaper, paint them with glue on both sides and paste to mould. Let each layer dry before adding the next. 



1. Using a sheet of card, draw out a wide spiral shape and cut out.

2. Stretch out the spiral and glue the ends to other structures at different levels either horizontally or vertically. 

This technique can be used to make ramps.



1. Place the junk you want to wrap in the middle of the scrap paper.

2. Fold around the junk so it is all covered. 

3. Fold and tape the side, top and bottom.

This technique can be used to make building blocks.

Photographing your work

Photographing your work

Photographing your models can be approached in a number of creative ways. Here’s a few tips to help you take more professional images at home. You can use any camera you have available - the example images were taken using an iPhone 6S.



It is important to have a clear background in your images, to avoid distractions from your model. Plain card works well (one sheet on the surface, one behind the model). A white model will stand out well against a dark or colourful background, or white on white will give a minimalist look. Glossy surfaces can reflect your model.

Camera Angles

Try using different angles to showcase different elements of your model. You can move 360 degrees around your model, and if you raise it on top of some books or a box, allows you to look up from a lower angle. If you’re using a phone or small camera, then you can get right up close to the model.


To give an idea of scale in your models, you can add recognisable figures, such as people or cars. If using human figures, like lego figures, think about how they interact with spaces in the model. A clear idea of scale is useful for architectural models, but for more abstract work it may be more interesting if the scale is unclear, and the viewer tries to work it out themselves.



For a natural look, you can use sunlight by itself to light your model. However this leaves strong shadows, so if you want more even light and detail throughout the image, then you can use a second source of light from the other side to add light to the darker areas. This could be a desk lamp or phone flashlight, for example. 



This activity was created by Celebrating Architecture in partnership with Open City.

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Since launching at the RCA in 2018, and over the last two summers,  Celebrating Architecture has worked with 175 young people from schools across London. Through our Pavilion workshop days these students (aged 9-18 years and from all backgrounds) have discovered, experienced and made architecture in cultural environments, alongside leading London Architects.

This creative and aspirational learning initiative is led by architecture educators, Neil Pinder and Venetia Wolfenden, with the key aim to bring diversity into the profession, so that our future built environments reflect the societies that they are designed for. We are also determined to promote the importance of creative subjects in state schools to ensure continuation of a diverse pipeline of talent to the profession.