Making your model future - Shape My City 2.0

Shape My City 2.0 

Last night the Architecture Centre welcomed its brand new Shape My City participants for the first workshop of 2015. As this was the first opportunity for the young people to meet one another the initial part of the evening was spent ‘breaking the ice’. The 10 participants came from a range of schools and neighbourhoods across the city, highlighting the opportunity Shape My City offers to Bristol’s younger citizens to meet other like-minded individuals. The group started the workshop explaining what they hoped to gain from being involved in the project and their answers created a wall of aspirations.

It seemed fitting for the first session to focus on architectural model-making with the Architecture Centre’s Exploring Scale and Vision exhibition on display. Friendly Amalgam model-maker Phil joined the group to share what his career entails. Phil decribed his career path into model-making, which involved a moment of realisation during his university years that led him to leave the course and seek a job at Amalgam.

Phil explained how the people working in the Amalgam studio come from a range of backgrounds (3D design, product design, architecture, graphic design, fine art, sculpture, carpentry, electrics and engineering), but the one thing they  all share is a real passion for what they do. Phil added that although his job as a model maker is sometimes stressful (tight deadlines on projects, challenging processes to create unusual items) this is far outweighed by the fun, creativity and diversity of the job. Finally Phil answered the infamous Shape My City question; if you could give one piece of advice to your 16 year old self (knowing what you know now), what would it be?  Insightfully Phil answered that he would teach his younger self the benefits of patience.

Amalgam Director James also joined the session to share his insights on the creative way the studio staff at Amalgam work collaboratively to respond to the diverse range of projects they work on (they can make virtually anything: architectural models, props for film and theatre, prototypes of new products). James’ advice to the young city shapers was ‘do what you are passionate about’ – something he and Phil obviously did, and their passion is infectious.

With the inspiration of a room filled with Amalgam models and Phil as a mentor the group were given the chance to design and build their own model.  In teams they worked to ‘fill-the-gap’ between the Architecture Centre and Arnolfini. The disused space on the Harbourside edge has been a focus of our current exhibition and we have been eager to invite new ideas for how the wasteland could be transformed.

With an air of realism (working to a design brief under the pressure of time) and after browsing a range of inspiration sheets, the teams set to conceiving of how best to re-model the ‘gap-site’.  Using an assortment of model making materials the three teams created some innovative models which included a contemporary bandstand in the round, a family-friendly green space with sandpit that can be accessed from both the Architecture Centre and Arnolfini, and an amphitheatre music venue with an outdoor cinema screen.  All of the ideas were free for the public to use and sought to encourage new demographics to enjoy and interact with the harbourside area. The group’s ideas highlighted the need for a free, family-friendly cultural venue to counter-balance the eateries and nightclubs that currently populate the Harbourside. Phil and James praised the teams for not only their original ideas, ability to work in teams to a tight deadline, but also for considering the site’s surroundings.

The Architecture Centre is excited to be working alongside such a great group of young people and is looking forward to the next session in May. We would like to thank Phil and James from Amalgam for joining us, sharing stories and imparting their wisdom.  Thank you also to Hani our Shape My City 2014 alumni, who supported this session as a mentor.

To find out more:
New Blades – the model making industry annual new talent show

This blog post is written by Hannah Luff, who is the Architecture Centre's current Creative Employment Intern.