Architecture in Schools Programme Information

This year classes have visited the following buildings;

City Hall, Sir John Soane's Museum, The National Maritime Museum, the White Collar Factory, The Barbican, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, Salters’ Hall, Tate Modern, The Crystal, Museum of London Docklands, Guild Hall Art Gallery, Unicorn Theatre, the Royal Academy of Music and many more venues across London.


Design professionals have come from the following practices;

Alison Brooks, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Allies and Morrison, Arup, BDP, Bell Associates, Benedetti Architects, Burwell Deakins Architects, CampbellReith, Carl Turner Architects, Chapman Taylor, Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture Ltd, Fereday Pollard, Elliott Wood Partnership, Foster + Partners, Grimshaw Architects, HKS Architects Ltd, Hopkins Architects, Ian Ritchie Architects, Jestico + Whiles, Jo Townshend Architects, Larissa Johnston Architects, Lipton Plant Architects, LOM Architecture and Design Ltd, Orms, MAA Architects, Morris + Company, Níall McLaughlin Architects, New Ground Architects, nimtim Architects, Pollard Thomas Edwards, PRP, Purcell, Shade Abdul Architecture, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Stanton Williams, Sheppard Robson, Stride Treglown, Studio Cherry, Tate Harmer, Tonkin Liu, Townshend Landscape Architects, van Heyningen and Haward Architects, ÜberRaum Architects, Waugh Thistleton Architects, Weston Williamson + Partners.

2019 Design brief and in-class workshops

The design brief for 2019’s Architecture in Schools project is a ‘Smarter City’.

Open City selected this brief because we believe in lifelong, imaginative and responsive learning. We also believe in flexible and creative working and in people’s wellbeing. From the day we are born we are constantly and continuously absorbing and learning from our surroundings, advances in technology and from each other. We should live in well-designed cities and neighbourhoods that encourage and facilitate the development of peoples’ knowledge, skills and understanding of the world around them.

Research shows that learning outside of the classroom in different environments can have a positive impact on children’s learning and behaviour. It can help children with different learning styles, needs and abilities to experience memorable, active and cross-curricular learning. Taking children to a nature reserve, for example, can teach them about a range of scientific subjects including habitats, eco-systems, plants, animals, food chains and sustainability through fun, engaging and direct experience. Museums can provide a wealth of primary learning resources
and visiting scientific and technological centres can give children access to an incredible range of specialist knowledge and equipment they might not have available in their schools. Open City believes that these learning experiences and resources should not just be confined to school children taking part in school trips but that these facilities and new technologies should be integrated into the architecture and design of cities and neighbourhoods, so they are accessible at any time to anyone.

In the 21st century our adaptive attitude to learning also applies to our working styles, patterns and approaches. We are re-designing our offices, so they are more comfortable, social and inspiring places to work. We are working more flexible hours tailored to individual preferences. As digital technologies develop, we are also broadening our ideas of where we should work and who we should work with, choosing to work in cafés, shared studio spaces, in outside public areas and at home with a variety of people from a range of ages, skills and knowledge. Being able to work freely
in a diversity of physical and social settings is as important as being able to learn, socialise and live in a variety of stimulating environments.

In creating a ‘Smarter City’ we believe that considering different audiences and their needs, learning and working styles, academic subjects, new technologies and how people physically, socially and mentally develop is key to creating buildings, facilities, spaces and places that positively contribute to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of London’s growing populations.

This is a key idea that your pupils could investigate in designing their cities.

Encouraging young people to play an active and considered role in shaping their city is a top ambition of the AIS programme.


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Responding to the Design Brief

Throughout the project classes work independently with their partner mentor architects to respond to their design brief and to design their own ‘imagined’ area or neighbourhood. 

In working on their designs 
pupils are asked to consider the following: 

The function of their chosen place, who will use their place, the location of their place, how their place can be accessed, how their place can look appealing to users and how their place can be sustainable and well 
looked after.

Presenting Ideas

Every year children present their ideas by creating a project portfolio complete with photographs, sketches and notes documenting their design process and final designs and creating a three-dimensional architectural model showcasing their ideas.  Pupils then submit their design to an interschool competition.

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Inter-school competition

Each year participating classes can enter the Architecture in School Awards. To enter the competition Open City and the Canary Wharf Group asks for classes to submit a digital portfolio of work showcasing children’s design ideas in response to their design brief.

Prizes for the following categories are awarded to classes;

Best Class Effort, Most Imaginative Design, Model-Making Prize
, Most ‘Buildable’ Design
,  Design Development Prize and Best Local Focus

The top three entries are transformed into professional architectural models which go on public display in Canary Wharf's Crossrail Roof Garden. 


Open City and representatives from the Canary Wharf Group judge submissions on the following criteria:

→  Children have clearly worked with their professional mentor in developing and showcasing their design ideas and have incorporated knowledge acquired through their venue visits into their project plans.

→  Children have expressed their ideas in a well-designed and well-built architectural model and a portfolio of sketches, photographs and noted observations. 

→  Children have created imaginative and innovative design ideas and concepts that show an understanding of architectural design. 

→  Children have demonstrated consideration of design practicality and sustainable design. 

→  Children have produced creative and high-quality work which links to other areas of the curriculum.

To take part in next year's programme, please email

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2019 Competition Winners

The top all-rounder prizes were awarded to year five pupils from St John's C Of E Primary School who worked with Chapman Taylor Archiects, year five pupils from Timbercroft Primary School who worked with architects from Jo Townshend Architects and year four and five pupils from Henry Maynard Primary School who worked with architects from Purcell.

In their submission, St John's pupils wrote: "a smarter city is a place where people all work and play together. It has windmills and solar panels and its clean not messy or littered. There are technology-epic gadgets, great education and possibilities for all children, good resources, buildings made from non-flammable materials, stronger buildings that can withstand earthquakes, museums and libraries, electric cars and vehicles- no diesel, access to top quality Wi-Fi, religious places and underground cars so that there is no more pollution"

Pupils from Timbercroft Primary wrote “It is disheartening to see how the world has taken a turn for the worse. It would be nice to see more green things in it”

and pupils from Henry Maynard wrote: “Here at Henry Maynard, sustainability, design and community are at the forefront of everything that we do. Each section of our new city has been designed with a sense of purpose and productivity that residents will be proud to call their home. We strive to be a city where people will enjoy living, working and learning. Green spaces, innovative office spaces and beautiful homes along with an excellent transport hub will allow our city to thrive. Our interlinking sections show the importance of the transitions between working, resting, learning and playing".

St John's Primary Project Overview

Year five started their project by discussing the theme of ‘A Smarter City’ and brainstormed some of their ideas:

A place where people all work and play together…..Use of windmills and solar panels….clean not messy or littered…Technology-epic gadgets….great education and possibilities for all children…..good resources….buildings made from non-flammable materials….great opportunities and experiences….taller and bigger buildings….stronger buildings that can withstand earthquakes….. Museums and libraries…environmentally friends…. electric cars and vehicles- no diesel..... access to top quality Wi-Fi…. Religious places ….  Including people of all religions, races and anyone with disabilities…. underground cars so that there is no more pollution….virtual reality living….

Year five then discussed and agreed that their focus for their project would be their local area in Bethnal Green where they lived and went to school.

After deciding on their project focus, pupils enjoyed meeting Priscille Rodriguez, Senior Architect, Chapman Talyor and planning how to develop their project. Pupils decided that they would like to visit their local museum, The V&A Museum of Childhood, with Priscille for their building visit. The museum is soon to close, in order to undergo a multi-million-pound refurbishment. The museum has already been in consultation with local children and the community, with a view to create, “The world’s most joyful museum.” Even though the proposed plans are in place, this led to year five pupils thinking about what a museum of the future might look like – both inside and outside. As the project challenge was to design a ‘smarter city’, year five pupils also started to think about the surrounding land on which the museum is housed, and how this could be designed better (or smarter) to meet the needs of all.

During the visit to the museum, year five pupils analysed the building and surrounding area and came up with the following conclusions:

  • So many different people use the space – for lunch with their friends; to learn and for work.
  • Some of the exhibits look boring because you can’t play with them or touch them.
  • It’s very peaceful in some parts …some parts are quite noisy.
  • There is a lack of permeability to the museum because of the walls and fences
  • How can the ‘most joyful place in the world’ face such a busy street?
  • The garden has no direct access to the museum and is underused
  • The space is not as vibrant as it could be.
  • Lots of homeless people live around the museum
  • The museum gardens are quiet and leafy with some lovely trees and flowers.
  • A successful change of level (at the front of the museum) could be repeated elsewhere in the building.
  • When redesigning the museum, we need to think about all of the different types of people who use the museum and surrounding areas (students, children, teenagers, young families, the elderly, the ‘Young at Heart’, people who go to work and disabled people.


After analysing their site pupils came up with the following ideas to improve the area:

“Couldn’t there be a tropical plant roof for a healthier planet and fresher air for everyone?”

“When you walk on the floor, a square of colour will appear, and there are piano stairs that work.”

“I think there should be a glass roof; there should be a playground and in the night we can star-gaze.”

“Have an underground pool; have a slide at the top of the museum for the swimming pool!”

“Fun tree houses or pods in the park that you can hire out at night to sleep.”

“Make the walls entirely out of glass and move it to the middle of the park.”

“You could have a shark tank and aquarium so you can learn about the ocean.”

As well as focusing on the museum for their project year five pupils decided to focus on changing the following areas:

Museum Gardens(How could they be developed more creatively in relation to the museum? How could they become more functional? Smarter?)

York Hall(How could leisure and work be combined?)

St John’s Church(What will faith spaces look like in the future? How could more than one faith engage in the same space)

The Bethnal Green Memorial (How could this memorial become more ‘Smarter’? How could it serve as an on-going memorial for all wars?)

Bethnal Green Train Station(What will transport look like in the future? How could the underground near the museum be redesigned in an engaging, child-friendly way?)

Following their visit to the museum and their site analysis, pupils worked in large groups around a large A1 aerial map of the site and used post-its and felts pens to show how they would improve and modify the space and the buildings. The children had the challenge of working within the allocated space on the map, which enabled them to be realistic about their ideas and the possible size of any modifications or improvements.

Final develop plans for each area included:

Museum of Childhood: Extending the museum, transforming the roof of the museum – roof garden, tech exhibitions, homeless shelter, creating an arts centre, pedestrianizing the area outside the museum.

Museum Gardens: Installing a bridge connecting the museum to the gardens, creating a meditation centre, building a playground and petting farm, tree houses with VR, nicer seats and benches, building a new café for everyone (replacing the petrol station) and installing a ‘retro’ fairground.

Connecting People: Glass tunnels connecting different buildings, pods around the space - different purposes, free Wi-Fi bridge, getting rid of the busy main road – moving it above or underground?

The Bethnal Green Memorial – Creating a space that would enable people to remember the ‘lost dreams’of those who have passed away and had their lives cut short whilst enabling all people, both old and young, of different faiths, persuasions, abilities and backgrounds to explore, realise and remember their dreams together.

The children then spent a week developing drawings and building a huge model to showcase their ideas.

“The museum of childhood is the main part of the Smarter Neighbourhood. The museum now has an extension with on-site arts and crafts centre, a glass tropical area and a Helter Skelter. It also features a gaming/ VR room and a childcare room. The planetarium restaurant can be found on top of the Helter Skelter with a viewing platform linked on.  Outside there are exciting ‘Piano Stairs’ and a light show at night. The restaurant at the very top of the museum is in the shape of Saturn. Beneath it is a weightlessness experience for aspiring astronauts, so there is a link to space. The tube for the slide is see-through. The zipline leads from the slide to the pods.”  James

“The all-new transformed Museum Gardens features some fluorescent fountains, large decorative bushes and trees, and stunning Wi-Fi benches perfect for today’s technology. The petting farm gives children the opportunity to snuggle up with the likes of cute cats, puppies and rabbits. The farm, which also houses chickens, sells free-range eggs when they are available. In the heart of the gardens, exciting pods can be found, which are rented out for multi-purposes both during the day and at night time. And of course there is always grass for children and families to play.” Jessica

“The Homeless Shelter is in a special sealed-off area of the Museum Gardens to support the vulnerable people of the area. It has special ‘sticking out’ cabins so that the homeless feel like they have a space of their own. It has a training and community space, as well as a computer area to assist them with their needs. The shelter works closely with the local police station, which is situated nearby to ensure that everyone receives all the support they require. The shelter is fully-sustainable, surrounded by a community garden with fruits and berry bushes for homeless people to produce their own jams sell and to make a profit.” - Tahmina & Ahmed

“St John’s Church is now transformed into a Multi-Faith centre with key areas for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists to worship. The newly-built first floor extension is known as the Upper Room, and offers a space for people of all or no religions to meet and have discussions”-Rahad

“The busy main road that poses a danger to the public will be moved into an underground tunnel, making a space for a creative walkway called the ‘Pathway of Prayers.’ Children can now play here and not be restricted to the grounds of the museum. The pathway links the Multi-Faith Centre to the rest of the buildings through a series of playful stepping stones. Etched into the stones are prayers from different religions, as well as the names of people who have ‘lost’ their dreams – helping us to remember them forever.  This has a link to our slogan of ‘Together Forever – We Dream’.”  James

As the project had ‘taken over’ St John’s curriculum, alongside their drawings and plans, the children completed a range of literacy and numeracy sessions and specific tasks linked to the project:

Some of the English tasks included:

  • Letters to Mayor of London, Museum of Childhood and local MPs
  • Persuasive Reports
  • Advertisements
  • Letter of advice to local Inter-Forum Dean for St John’s and Imam
  • Discussion text about the pros and cons of the Multi-Faith Centre
  • Non-chronological reports different parts about the area

Some of the Maths tasks included:

  • Identifying and categorising different 3D shapes;
  • Identifying shapes in architecture;
  • Working with nets to make 3D shapes;
  • Constructing and making our own nets;
  • A simple introduction to scale;
  • Identifying regular and irregular 2D shapes;
  • Area and perimeter of compound shapes.

To make their final model pupils worked largely by trial and error producing lots of nets of cuboids and cones for particular parts of the neighbourhood (e.g. the clock tower and the multi-faith centre) until they were satisfied with the results.

“When we started to put things together, it looked like nets of shapes and recycled bits, but it slowly started to look like a city.”- Synicia

“I enjoyed when we started putting all the different buildings on the board, as it began to look amazing as part of one whole piece.” – Hannah

“The homeless shelter was made using the net of a cuboid covered with tiles. It was really tricky to make the individual cabins for the homeless people.” Rahad

“We made the Eatery using a collection of dodecahedrons nets, which are similar to the shape of real cupcakes. Now people can go into each section for a different reason” Synicia

Towards the end of their project, year five pupils invited important people form the neighbourhood to come and see their ideas and model at an exhibition event. Visitors included Father Alan and Father Richard, Harry Paticas, architect of the Bethnal Green Stairway to Heaven memorial, Teresa Hare Duke from the Museum of Childhood, Rushanara Ali, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow and most importantly friends and family of all of the participating pupils.

Timbercroft Project Overview

Timbercroft Primary School began their project by reaching out to year nine pupils from their local secondary school, Plumstead Manor.  The Year nine students helped pupils to look at ‘smart’ buildings and cities and to learn that being ‘smart’ meant setting an example to their local community.

“It feels nice for secondary schools to come in. We didn’t really know where to start and they helped everyone”. – Alexandra

“They taught us how to analyse and how to draw ‘smart’ plans”. – Adrianna

Students from Plumstead Manor helped pupils to see that to start their project they needed to get out of the classroom and so pupils went on a walk to see what their local community was doing well and what improvements could be made. Although pupils could see great potential in their neighbourhood, they realised that their school, and the surrounding area, was lacking in the following areas: 

  • communal spaces for activities and mindfulness/meditation opportunities
  • spaces for wildlife
  • spaces to learn instruments
  • a library
  • a kitchen/homeless shelter

Following their exploration, pupils wrote urban poems based on what they had seen in their local area. Through writing their poems pupils discovered that they were very disappointed with the lack of wildlife and the often-hostile environment it faced.

“It was heartbreaking to see such little wildlife and greenery. It would be nice to take care of animals. It seemed so full of concrete”.  - Raegan

“It was disheartening to see how the world has taken a turn for the worse. It would be nice to see more green things.” - John

Pupils decided to call in the RSPB who helped pupils to come up with ways to encourage wildlife into their urban environment. Pupils banked the ideas and kept them safe for when they began their design process.

Following their session with the RSPB pupils went on their building visit to The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich where they met their project architects, Angel and Viktor. Angel and Viktor helped pupils to see that in order to create a ‘smart’ space you didn’t have to tear down the old and start again. They encouraged pupils to see the potential of their school and local community. That is when pupils decided that their idea of an imagined ‘smart’ city was all about setting an example and that they would design a new, improved version of their school without tearing down its original form. That way their community would notice how easy and simple these changes can be and perhaps they would follow suit.

After they knew they would be making a model of their school it was time to think about the practicalities. In science pupils completed an experiment that would help them to understand and to plan and build to scale. The experiment included pupils making a model of the solar system, so that both sizes of the planets and their distances from each other and the sun were all to scale.

Year five pupils then decided that since their interpretation of ‘smart’ thinking was to rebuild and set an example for those living around them, the whole school should be involved in the project.

Each year group was shown a list drawn up by year five pupils of ‘problems’ their community faced and they focused on trying to solve each problem.

“It was unnerving leaving it all to the children but they did such a good job! They had the most incredible ideas! Better than I could come up with!” - Mrs. Bannell, Year 4

“I couldn’t believe how good they were at fixing problems. It didn’t phase them at all”. - Miss Ogborne, Year 3

“The children were so persistent! It didn’t always go to plan but I have never seen them work so hard!”- Mrs. Vas, Year 3

Year five pupils also created a list of elements they wanted their re-imagined school to include:

  • Vertical gardens
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Solar panels
  • A glass dome library
  • Café
  • Forest school
  • Pond
  • Wind turbines
  • A musical instrument wall
  • A wellness centre
  • Beehives
  • Playground equipment

All of the other year groups were informed of the different design elements as well as the design ‘problems’ they had to find solutions to. Each year group designed real, working prototypes of objects that would be seen in and around their new ‘smart’ school. For example, year three pupils made mindfulness products to go in the school’s new mindfulness center.

Early years foundation stage decided to work on how to make their school grounds more insect and bee friendly. They read lots of stories on insects and found clever and ‘smart’ ways to encourage them into their school grounds.

Year one decided they would like to try and attract more wildlife into the school and, more importantly, to make use of some of the wasted outdoor space. They discussed things that were already available such as birdbaths, feeders, bughouses etc. and thought of adaptations and improvements they could make to them. The children came up with ideas such as making items waterproof so that food didn’t get wet, using recyclable materials to make items more environmentally friendly, adding nature sounds to items to help attract the wildlife and combining habitats for a variety of animals so that there was something for every creature on offer.

Year two were tasked with improving the school’s music room. They focussed on including children with special needs and disabilities and discussed the issues that disabled people might face when using the equipment in the music room. Together the children came up with several suggestions, such as attaching a glockenspiel to a wheelchair, creating beaters for children without the use of their hands and creating a second level of seating with a ramp for the castle in the music room.

Year three were given the task of creating products to enhance the children’s mental and physical wellbeing. They began by looking at different products that have already been created such as massagers, bubble machines and sensory toys. Afterwards, they discussed which products made them feel relaxed and created a mind map of what they had enjoyed such as smell, movement, sound and touch. They used this criterion to design their own products.

Year four were given the brief to create an invention that would make their school, the kitchen in particular, ‘smarter’ and were asked to also think about how they could expand the potential of the kitchen to have a positive impact on the wider community. Firstly, the children came up with ideas that they felt fit the brief and then worked independently, using the resources that they had decided were required, to create their working prototype. Each group explained and modelled their invention to each other.

Year five considered it to be a huge honor to work alongside the other year groups. They were incredibly proud of all the hard work they had put into thinking ‘smart’. They thought this was important because when looking at this year brief they were struck by the idea that ‘smart’ cities, towns or schools are all about inclusivity. As a school, which holds an ‘Inclusion Flagship’ title, year five pupils couldn’t help but think of ways they could involve everyone. Each year group worked alongside each other and whilst year five were busy building their models the rest of the school hit the ground running with creative and impressive designs which would solve the problems year five discovered when observing their school and the local area.

Year five felt that the school couldn’t complete all this hard work and not share it with their friends, families and other schools in their trust and so they decided that the school should present their ideas to the rest of the Maritime Academy Trust on the 5th of July as well as hosting a whole school exhibition on the 10th July to which families and the local community were invited.


Henry Maynard Primary Project Overview

After looking at the design brief together, year four and five pupils had an in-depth discussion about what a ‘smart’ city meant to them:

“Natural light, green space and fun ways to travel”

“Intricate, interesting buildings where you can hang out with friends”

“Open spaces where you can work, learn and have lots of fun!”

“Accessible to everyone”

Pupils then looked at smart designs of offices, schools and cities which really helped pupils to think about how you can use shape, space and colourto create engaging and inspiringenvironments. Pupils used their ideas to help them to decide what the main features of a smart city are:

  • Homes
  • Health care
  • Technology
  • Work spaces
  • Transport
  • Educational spaces
  • Cultural venues
  • Leisure
  • Environmentally friend

Following their discussion pupils started thinking about spaces and places that they are familiar with and that they used regularly and investigated:

  • Why do people use this space?
  • How is this space fit for purpose?
  • What colours, light and shapes are in this space?
  • What would improve the space?

These investigations encouraged pupils to focus on their local area of Walthamstow Central for their project and pupils decided that they would name their new city ‘Walthamstow re-imagined’. Pupils went on a visit to Walthamstow Centralso that they could analyse the local area and explored the train station, bus station and main high street.

Pupils picked out the main features and buildings of Walthamstow Central and considered the purpose of that building or space including:

  • Who uses it most frequently?
  • What materials it is made of?
  • How can the area be improved?

The pupils then visited the National Portrait Gallery for their building visit and met their project architects from Purcell. The architects helped pupils to look closely at a space and to see it from a new perspective and to investigate the materials chosen for each room and how they effected the mood and feeling of a space.

Back at school pupils then felt ready to start designing their new and improved Walthamstow City. They decided that they wanted five key areas in their city:

  • Learn
  • Travel
  • Play
  • Work
  • Live

Pupils split into five groups and began drawing initial ideas that they wanted in their areas.

Group one – learn

This group wanted to ensure that the school was a fun, inspiring and inclusive place to be. They were keen to combine nature, technology and community within their designs. They wanted to include exciting and engaging activities that everybody has access to during lessons and at break times.

Group two – travel

This group started by designing bike hubs, paths with games and scooter parks. They focussed on eco-friendly ideas and fun. They decided after further discussions that they wanted a transport hub to get in and out of the city. They kept the scooter paths and bike paths to get around the city.

Group three – play

This group felt that play was an integral part of the city and that it should link all sections of their city. They wanted to create a space that is creative and fun for all members of the community. They were very keen to include a stage for entertainment and for people of all ages to practise and share their skills. They wanted an extendable roof to accommodate for all weather conditions!

Group 4 – work

This group discussed the importance of enjoying your work space. They wanted to ensure that work spaces would be a place for workers to feel inspired and happy. They wanted to include slides and zip wires as a more innovative way of travelling between buildings. A rooftop football pitch, swimming pools and interesting seating areas were all part of the children’s creative ideas.

Group five – live

This group wanted to create houses which were comfortable and sustainable. They thought about the use of solar panels, sound proof materials and natural lighting to create a relaxed environment. They felt it was very important to include areas where people could also play and learn. Outside gyms, community library hubs and community halls were just some of their fantastic ideas!

Pupils began their design process by making elevation drawings and plans of their buildings. This was an important part of visualising what their final city would look like.

When all of their designs were completed, pupils laid them all out to decide on the shape of their city. Pupils agreed that they wanted all of the sections to interlink so they decided that a circular shape would be best suited for this. As a team, pupils decided that play would be at the heart of Walthamstow Re-Imagined. Pupils could then ensure that people would enjoy themselves while living, working and travelling.

Pupils then experimented with transforming their 2D models into 3D designs. They used their knowledge of shape to help them create more complex structures and used nets to create 3D models. They worked hard to think about the structure of their models and experimented with different techniques to ensure the models were secure and stable.

Pupils experimented with moving the parts of their city around to think about where each section would work best. They decided that their ‘work’ and ‘live’ sections would be best suited closest to the transport hub as they were then able to place ‘learn’ as one section so the reading hub and school would be together.

Pupils completed their project by using creative writingto inspire people to live in their new city:

Walthamstow re-imagined

Here at Henry Maynard, sustainability, design and community are at the forefront of everything that we do. Each section of our new city has been designed with a sense of purpose and productivity that residents will be proud to call their home. We strive to be a city where people will enjoy living, working and learning. Green spaces, innovative office spaces and beautiful homes along with an excellent transport hub will allow our city to thrive. Our interlinking sections show the importance of the transitions between working, resting, learning and playing.


At Walthamstow re-imagined we believe that everything should be fun in some way. This is why we have made sure everything in our pioneering city has an enjoyable aspect. At Henry Maynard, we believe everybody of all ages should be able to play which is why we have made our playground accessible to each and every one of our residents. In addition to this, there is a variety of quality equipment that provides a maximum amount of enjoyment. At Henry Maynard, greenery is integral to our design which is why we have many green spaces throughout our city including a rooftop football pitch. Another vital part of our playground is our state-of-the-art community stage which, we will hold various events on.


At Walthamstow re-imagined we believe that all workers must have access to play so that they can work happily and productively. This is why we created our innovative and state of the art offices for our residents to work in. At Henry Maynard we have lots of windows to ensure that our workers enjoy maximum light and energy so that they can work efficiently and powerfully. We also include play so that it can merge successfully and let our workers have a break from all their hard work. This includes: A clean, electric blue swimming pool, a long swirly slide, a zip-wire and a rooftop football field. What’s more, we believe we have made our work offices more modern than any other with the abstract architecture and state of the art technology.


Here at Henry Maynard we believe that all homes should be aesthetically pleasing and sustainably built.

We understand that natural light is very important to many people; so now, thanks to our innovative designs, we have one-way glass involved in our flats and houses, allowing maximum light to reach our residents at all times. What’s more, we have ensured that each of the luxurious living spaces we provide use eco-friendly, materials, which are appealing to the eye. At Walthamstow re-imagined, we provide plants and greenery in every household.

At Walthamstow re-imagined, we understand that socializing is an important part of everyone’s life. Therefore, we hold special community events every weekend, open to absolutely everyone. In addition to this, we have planted communal gardens, just a few minute’s walk away from where you could be living. As you can see, this is an incredible place to live, that will keep you safe, comfortable and happy for years to come.


At Henry Maynard we believe that learning is a priority for everyone in our city. We think it is very important in our city that we have two sections of Learn so people have more knowledge.

Our city of learning is very smart, as Henry Maynard, we believe that everyone should have the chance to find an interest. As a result, we have made a very nice and relaxing area including a rooftop garden that has a glass dome on top. Most of our buildings are based on glass, which makes it eco-friendly as we find it very important to have clean fresh air. At Walthamstow re-imagined we provide greenery everywhere so people get a sense of nature too, wherever you go. As a community we would find it easier if everything was close together so it is all accessible. We put the school and library next to each other so children can have a more varied option of books and will be able to have a quiet space for reading. As you can see, our awesome learning centre is top notch and will keep you entertained, learning and having fun for years to come.

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Best Model

Morningside Primary School, MAA Architects

Pupils started their project by imagining an empty space and designing a building to fill that space. They then imagined a space near their school becoming vacant and tried to scale their building designs to that space and started to think about the changes they would like to see in their local area.

Pupils then decided to visit their recently renovated Art Deco Hackney Town Hall building to learn about their local heritage.  During their visit pupils were especially inspired by the Art Deco light fittings, the use of perspex to allow light into the now enclosed court yard and how different textures and materials had been incorporated into the building.

Back at school pupils discussed the design brief and considered accessibility, provisions for the homeless, use of shared green spaces, ways to incorporate technology and ways to ensure and protect animals and their habitats in their local area. Pupils then used their interpretation of the design brief to think about the changes they would like to see in their local area.

Pupils started the drawing process by experimenting with different blocks and created compositions of varying heights and shapes and thinking about adding connections between buildings.

For their building visit pupils visited the National Gallery to discover the shapes and materials present in the building. Pupils then discovered that the space outside the museum functions as an extension of the gallery and provides a place for everyone. Trafalgar Square inspired pupils and they began to understand the importance of shared spaces inside their cities. Pupils learnt about the history of the square and how different it was in the past and about the Fourth Plinth. Pupils loved the idea of a temporary artwork exhibited in a public space and decided to have their very own Fourth Plinth in their design.

Architects from MAA then visited pupils in school and helped them to research smart public and private spaces, different uses for rooftops and innovative transport design. One of the pupil’s main inspirations was Buckminster Fuller. The way he used geometry and faceted shapes was very inventive. Using nets, pupils experimented with 3D shapes and tested the possibility of volumes.

With a clear idea about smart cities, pupils were ready to start designing. Using their knowledge of nets, they edited, created, stacked and transformed them to make new designs - and got some very cool buildings! Pupils also explored how to design a building to scale by drawing each of the storeys with scale rules. They decided to use a 1:100 scale, with one standard floor around 3cm in height.

Next, pupils applied their new designs to their site and continued working in the area of their school. Pupils imagined it as a new shared space and used all of their ideas to create a manifesto.

Pupils also created collages of buildings and features they liked and felt reflected their interpretation of a smart city and stuck their collages to the outside of their building nets. Whilst building their models pupils worked on textures, details, and how to ensure their buildings worked structurally.

Using a coloured ‘bubble diagram’ layout they had made, pupils also developed the landscape of the city and its interstitial spaces, re-orientating the buildings using the textures to ensure their buildings worked together.

Pupils’ final model included a meditation centre and yoga studio that was inspired by the lotus flower as a symbol of peace and tranquillity. Pupils decided it should be a small building that is inviting and airy. It is a space for all to learn and find a moment of calm in a busy digital landscape. The building would be made from reclaimed wood and reinforced with steel. The William Morris wallpaper used in the pupil’s model represents their East London heritage.

The pupils’ greenhouse was inspired by the palm house at Kew Gardens. Pupils thought a smart city should always have a place where people can learn about nature and plants. It would be a place where all members of the community can learn and plant things together and would be a sustainable and plastic free building for people to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Pupils also made a three-storey digital art and learning centre that would, in reality, be made entirely out of plastic bricks (plastic bottles filled with sand and stones). At the centre people would be able to learn to code.

Pupils placed pedestrian and cyclist friendly paths to connect all the buildings to each other. Paths have solar powered lights, which make it easy to move around at all times and connect all the different parts of their design. Being solar powered reduces the carbon footprint and cares for the environment. Pupils also made plastic bridges that would be safe, easy to access and allow people to easily cross the water ways.



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Design Development

Clapham Manor Primary School, Foster + Partners  

Clapham Manor’s project began with an engineer from Desolenator visiting pupils and teaching the class about sustainable energy, including solar thermal and electric power, and desalination as a way to provide drinking water using sustainable technology. Morrisroe construction company also visited pupils and gave them a presentation on the building construction process and how living walls could be incorporated into the structure of buildings.

Pupils then took part in a whole school construction challenge, by creating newspaper structures, and learnt about stability, forces and engineering design. Pupils also took part in a model making workshop so they could be prepared for the upcoming project and used simple materials to learn joining techniques such as slits and slots and tabs.

Pupils then learnt about the importance of sustainability, the effect on climate change, and what renewable resources were and how they could be applied into the smarter city design. The class then decided to make posters and leaflets about the effects of climate change, and what they can do to minimise the damage caused by the pollution. They also learnt that ‘living walls’, created for use on buildings, help reduce pollution by purifying the air and they designed their own and applied them to existing images of buildings.

Pupils then took part in a discussion about the usage of energy in their ‘smarter cities’:


         ‘Design our buildings with solar panels’

         ‘Have multi sensors to operate lighting’

         ‘Encourage walking and cycling rather than fuelled vehicles’

         ‘No diesel or petrol vehicles in the city centre, only smart powered transport’

         ‘Stop using fossil fuel’

         ‘Everyone should be close by to where they’re living and working’

         ‘Travelling by boat’

Pupils then explored longitude and latitude to learn how locate places in the world, which helped the class to think about populations and urban planning in designing their ‘smarter city’.  An anthropologist from Foster + Partners visited and discussed Urbanisation with the class, and why people move to cities. Pupils also explored the key ingredients for a city with Foster’s Urban Design Team, and how each of the ingredients relate to each other in terms of access, mobility and mixed uses.

 ‘City services could be close to landmarks, which could go in the middle of our city to attract lots of people.’

Pupils then worked together to position the components of a city according to different functional arrangements (working/learning, city service, playing, water, landmark and living) on a large sheet of paper and used coloured ribbons representing modes of transportation to connect buildings and areas.

Pupils then thought carefully about who their ‘smarter city’ was designed for. They carried out resident and profile surveys during a science fair and gathered feedback from the local community, parents and carers. They used hypothetic profiles and asked ‘How might I move around in my city?’ ‘What else do I like to do during my day’ ‘Who else might live in my city’ to get a better understanding of the citizens.

Architects from Foster + Partners then worked with pupils to produce plans and elevations of the children’s building designs, powered by renewable energy sources. They created a large baseboard with lots of coloured areas. That responded to the position of specific buildings or land use.

Pupils then had lots of fun perfecting their building designs and constructing their model of their ‘smarter city’.

For their building visit the class explored the Mayor of London’s offices and chamber at City Hall built by Fosters + Partners. They identified and recorded shapes in the building and completed sketches of landmark buildings they could see along the river Thames. taking advantage of the view from London’s ‘Living Room’. Pupils also drew a panorama from along the river, comparing all the building styles from different periods in history.

Back at school pupils thought about how to incorporate their project into the numeracy curriculum and calculated areas of the shapes in their building design. Pupils also located positions of their buildings onto a 2D grid and recorded them as coordinates.

Pupils completed their project by working with a photographer from Foster + Partners and learnt how to photograph their model from different viewpoints using a go-pro camera.

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Most Buildable Design

Cubitt Town Junior School, Grimshaw Architecture

Pupils started their project by visiting St Paul’s Cathedral where they met their project architects from Grimshaw Architects and learnt about the different types of drawings an architect does and drew their own plan, section and elevation drawings of St Paul’s.

In researching what it meant to be sustainable, pupils then looked into climate change and the need for sustainability in modern design. This propelled them to go on a climate change demonstration and they worked in their literacy lessons on writing speeches about the dangers of climate change and the need to act on it. Pupils researched sustainability in building design in a lot of depth and decided that they would have to minimise the use of fossil fuels and make the most out of renewable energy opportunities within their ‘smarter city’.

Following their work on climate change, pupils were asked to read the project design brief and pick out the key aspects and begin to generate ideas about what a ‘smarter city’ would have. Ideas included:

Houses appropriate for children and the elderly, accessible Wi-Fi for all, affordable spaces for all, shops, libraries, offices, hospitals, community spaces, schools, environmentally friendly spaces, places to play, learn and inspire, sustainable spaces and accessible transport.

Pupils decided that their ‘smarter city’ would have the following:

“Work spaces are close to homes so people don’t use cars to get there and cause less pollution”.

“There are green areas with balconies, so you can play.”

 “There are local parks for everyone to play and buildings are surrounded by leaves”.

“All buildings have big windows, so buildings don’t have to use electricity in the day”.

“Our school would have an edible playground that would teach us to grow our own food. If people grow their own food they are less reliant on buying food, which needs transportation and often results in food wastage. Lights would be operated on movement sensors so that they automatically turn off if nobody is in the room. There would also be a parent community house attached to the school that would mean the space is for everyone”.

“Our school would also have a good balance between playing and working/learning spaces. It would have excellent sports facilitates and extensions of quiet learning areas. People would move through the building quietly because they would know learning happens everywhere and lockers would make sure that areas are tidy and look pleasant”.

After discussing their initial ideas, pupils designed a masterplan for their city.  To do this pupil thought about different functions they could find within a city and assigned a colour and a shape to each category to visually differentiate them in the process of building their city.  Functions included ‘live’, ‘work’, ‘play’ and ‘nature’.

Pupils decided that their ideal living spaces are small in size but spacious inside, with many rooms for different purposes - play, relax, work. Their homes link to nature and they create small neighbourhoods.

In designing their ‘work’ spaces, pupils thought about the work spaces they could find in London - tall glass office buildings. After that they realised that their favourite public buildings they relax in, are also work spaces - shops, restaurants, cafés and zoos. Pupils learnt that people work in many different buildings built in a range size and shapes.

Pupils decided their city should have many different areas where people could play in including schools and playgrounds, libraries and parks. Pupils also thought that everyone should have access to these places - regardless of their age or abilities.

Pupils agreed that nature could be found everywhere around us and their city should provide natural habitats for animals, as well as caves to hide from the rain.

To develop their masterplan pupils then swapped their drawings with each other and started creating abstract collages of the sketched spaces. Using a specific colour and shape for each category, pupils started to visually differentiate them in the process of building their city. One by one pupils placed their collages next to each other to form a large city and discussed if they were happy with the layout of their masterplan.

The next step was to look into different forms, combinations and scales of the shapes represented by each function. Once pupils created their own forms, they started assembling them together to see how different forms and functions could work with each other. It was a messy, yet very creative and collaborative process. In a couple of hours into the process shapes started forming into interesting buildings and pavilions. Pupils started thinking about their purpose and scales. A tube could be as big as a building, or a simply a pot. for a plant. At this point pupils started exploring the ‘sustainable’ part of the structures, by adding green spaces, energy generating plants and materials of the buildings.

The pupil’s city had taken shape, but they had some more ideas:

“Where do we need daylight?”

“How do we generate energy?”

“There should be grass around the buildings!”

“The city should have no cars and no roads!”

Pupils learnt how sunlight affects how cities are designed by using a torch and shutting the classroom blinds. They experimented with where they wanted to position solar panels, and where the waste facilities would go - in the shade.

They created a vision for their city;

- There are NO CARS, everyone travels by CABLE-CAR or TRAM

- There is GRASS around all buildings where children can play and the city is surrounded by TREES and nature

- FOOD is grown on rooftops in TRIANGULAR GREENHOUSES

- Buildings combine areas of LIVE, WORK, PLAY and NATURE all in one

- Energy is produced by WIND TURBINES

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Best Class Effort

Clara Grant Primary School, van Heyningen and Haward Architects

Pupils began their project by working in their groups to write down what they thought a ‘smarter city’ should have. Answers included:

-       Better living

-       Better health

-       Good life

Pupils then investigated 3D models of cities around the world and inspired by their research children independently worked in groups to experiment with designing smarter cities using any resources that they could find in the classroom. Pupils then evaluated their ideas and re-planned buildings experimenting with creating nets and templates of different 3D shapes. Pupils then split themselves into teams to focus on sketching, building and perfecting different parts of their city.

Team A – Housing (houses/flats)

Team B – Farming

Team C – Workplace/school

Team D – Religious Places

Team E – Landmarks

Team F – Services

Through their investigations pupils decided that they wanted their city to be free of pollution with a crisp, clean environment, parks and public spaces. Pupils also decided they wanted cheap and clean energy for every aspect of everyday life including for streets and solar street lights. They planned a modern city with excellent infrastructure and amenities including housing, shopping complexes, auditoriums, showrooms, health clubs, cafeterias, banks and places of worship.

Whilst building their models pupils focused on and experimented with drawing and building to set scales, calculated measurements of buildings and worked out ratios of scale. Pupils also investigated renewable energy sources and added solar panels to their building models.

The pupil’s final model included:

A mixed-use building- This building embraces a wide range of uses including community centres. nurseries/childcare facilities and facilities for sports users (indoor games centre/supermarket/gymnasium).

An office building with the latest hi-tech equipment - SMART technologies and many other benefits of advanced technologies, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower operating costs, noise reduction, improved indoor air quality and more.

A local mosque with solar panels. Worshippers can access smart services, such as personal lockers and smart parking. The mosque is built in close proximity to the underground car park which gives people easy access.

A smart school that uses SMART technologies to facilitate students’ success with tools that will tap into their natural way of learning.

A hospital with a helipad and a hi-tech patient records system.

A multipurpose cafeteria with lots of restaurants and which is open air during the summer and warm during winter.

A river for sitting, relaxing and enjoying daytime or night.

A solar panel heated greenhouse that insulates plants when it is cold. The greenhouse is filled with exotic plants and is open to visitors all year round. Radiant heat lamps hung over plants combined with soil heating cables under beds will keep the plants warm.

In building their city children even used match boxes to create smart robot police surveillance sentry. This is a deterrent to any crime and anti-social activities that might take place. Pupils also built hydro plants, which pump water into reservoirs to store power for later use.

As their smart city does not have any cars or vehicles, pupils decided it should only have bicycles. This mode of travelling is healthy but pupils realised that if families had babies and little children it would be difficult for them to travel. So pupils designed a driverless electric pod for families or more than one person travelling together.

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Most Imaginative Design 

Streatham Wells Primary School, Studio Cherry

Pupils began their project by discussing what they though a ‘smarter city’ would have in it and looked at some examples of exciting smarter work spaces. Pupils loved the sense of fun in these places of work and they particularly liked that there was space to work outside, the plants inside the buildings and the ‘pods’ where people could go to think by themselves or meet with a colleague in private. Pupils also loved the feeling of space in modern work places and the fact everyone was working together rather than in separate rooms along with the lounge areas, balconies and big windows.

Year four pupils then met Hannah and Warren, their partner design professionals, who helped them to explore further what a ‘smarter city’ could mean by showing them images of Archigram’s:  A Walking City, WindSong Cohousing Community, Canada, Fuji Kindergarten, Tokyo, and Singapore Technology University.

Their lesson with Hannah and Warren promoted some excellent discussion amongst pupils which inspired and helped them to focus their ideas on the ways they wanted their city to be ‘smarter’. During the Spring term, the pupil’s topic had been ‘rainforests’ and they had learnt a lot about deforestation, global warming and sustainability. Pupils felt really passionate about this issue and wanted their city to be environmentally friendly. They were also really inspired by the interesting shapes of the buildings and the sense of community in the examples Hannah and Warren had shown them.

“Why are buildings such boring shapes? I think our city should have buildings that are weird and interesting shapes!”

“I like the way people live together and have places where they spend time with each other”.

“Our city should have a lot of recycling and not make loads of pollution. Can we have lots of parks and trees too?!”

To begin their design process, pupils took an experimental approach to drawing buildings including drawing with eyes closed and creating collaborative drawings to help them to think about designing cities in unusual ways and then experimented with using 3D blocks to design exciting building shapes.

For their building visit pupils explored the offices of Squire & Partner’s architects and Pop Brixton. Pupils loved the corrugated metal work on the containers and the shared spaces for people to sit and eat together. Pupils also loved the areas for growing edible plants and, of course, the spiral staircase!

Since Hannah and Warren’s visit, pupils had become a little obsessed with the idea of self-contained cities that could move around on land, sea and air. Pupil’s topic for the summer term had also been the Ted Hughes story The Iron Man. In English pupils had been doing lots of fantastic writing about this metal giant who could break apart and put himself back together again. He also had an enormous appetite, which lead pupils to thinking… could they incorporate the Iron Man into their design?

“He could eat and recycle the waste from the city”

“His arms could move the levels around, adding new levels as needed and fix anything that breaks”.

“The robot legs would allow the city to move to new destinations – even into the water to clean up plastic waste!”

Pupils fed back their design ideas to Hannah and Warren who compiled different elements into a 3D sketch. The sketch focused on;

  • Shape and form and especially regular, irregular and clustered shapes with social spaces at the centre that would form the layers for a self-sufficient and walking city.
  • Social spaces: balconies, covered streets, roof gardens, public to private and fun!
  • Landscape: biodiversity, green roofs, planting, absorbing CO2, self-sufficient - grow own food and composting
  • Management of resources: energy production, air quality and pollution, recycling, reuse and waste.
  • Technology: building’s “brain”, robot and machines deal with waste and pollution, innovative transport.

Using the pupil’s ideas, Hannah and Warren showed them how to sketch out a bird’s eye view plan of the inside space of different levels. Pupils used a small plastic person to help them to consider scale when they were planning.

In Geography pupils had been learning about land use in the UK and the differences between urban and rural areas. Pupils wanted their smarter city to include the positive elements of both of these places and decided the key areas to include in our city:

Agriculture, education, housing, healthcare, leisure spaces, retail areas and places to work.

Pupils chose what level of the city they wanted to work on based on their interests. Pupils then worked in groups to design each level of their city.

Rectangular level – Pupils decided to make this the leisure area of their city because they wanted to include a running track and swimming pool and they felt this was the best shape for this purpose.

Oval level- Pupils loved the Fuji Kindergarten so they decided to use the same shape for their education centre. It would include classrooms for all ages, a library, hall, canteen and a playground in the centre.

Triangular level- Pupils knew that triangles were a very strong shape structurally. They decided to make this the retail level of their vertical city, selling everything citizens would need to survive. Including fresh produce from their farm!

Splat level- Pupils loved this unusual shape and thought it would make a fantastic open plan work place, where people could work together side by side from all different businesses and types of job.

Flower level- This level’s shape was inspired by the Singapore Technology University. They thought the petals would make great living spaces with a central shared area, allowing people to gather together like in the WindSong Cohousing Community. This level would also include a healthcare centre.

Oval level two- Pupils wanted to include a farm in their city to provide food for the citizens, so that the city was as self-sufficient as possible.

Once pupils had their design in place, pupils used 2D paper nets to build 3D shapes and tested their strength under small amounts of pressure. Pupils learnt the importance of good cutting, folding and sticking to help make strong structures. Pupils then embarked on their building week and worked extremely hard to make their ideas and plans a reality.

The end result was the ‘Survival Ark’. Connected by a central lift which travels through all levels, the building is accessible to all with multiple staircases and spiral ramps. It is topped with solar panels to harvest the energy of the sun, which it uses to produce its own energy. In the face of runaway climate change, humankind has retreated to a few conurbations.  The fusion of architecture, human life and technology ensures the survival of humanity in mobile structures.

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Best Local Focus

Smithy Street Primary School, Alison Brooks

Pupils started their project by learning about the history of their local area.  They decided to focus on Smithy Street for their project as it is a place that all the children know well. Pupils then discussed how they could improve the street and used Lego to test ideas. Suggestions included:

“Plant more trees”, “Make people walk to school” “You could replace the road with a cycle lane to stop idling”.

Pupils then practiced their drawing skills through visiting Smithy Street and sketching different parts before drawing some rough plans of what they thought a ‘smarter’ Smithy Street might look like. Architects from Alison Brooks then drew the children’s sketches into an architect’s masterplan and the children present their ideas;

‘We put a sensor in our design so when it’s night the light shines when a bike comes by and not to waste electricity.’

‘We put the, “Please drive carefully!” sign in our design, because often, people drive over the speed limit and that can cause car crashes!’

‘We put a hotel in our design so people can come and explore Stepney!’

‘The streetlamps in our design help drivers see where they’re going in the night.’

‘We made a cycle lane, because people need something separate to cycle on.’

‘Growing lots of trees in a smarter Smithy Street is a really good way of helping the Earth.’

‘We put a playground in our design for children to play and have a place to sit.’

‘We made some illuminated crossings, so they can stand out.”

‘We put bumps on the road so cars slow down and use less fuel.’