Making the Mayor of Bristol’s City pledge a reality, The Architecture Centre continues its commitment to diversity in placemaking with its work experience programme: Shape My City

PRESS RELEASE - January 2017 

This year Bristol’s Architecture Centre ‘comes of age’ at 21 years old. To celebrate the Centre launches the fourth year of its successful Shape My City programme for girls and young people from Black and Minority Ethnic (B&ME ) backgrounds aged 15-19 years old. The 2017 programme marks the Centre’s continued commitment to career progression for all young people and to diversity in the arts and built environment sectors.

Shape My City
Shape My City is a creative youth project that inspires participants about careers in the world of architecture and placemaking and supports their skills development to pursue future work and study options. One of the first participants was Hani Salih from East Bristol. Now aged 21 and in his second year of Architecture in Manchester, he recalls:

Shape My City changed my life and I am grateful for the doors it helped open for me and others. It greatly increased my passion for architecture and cemented my decision to pursue a career in the field.’

Hani’s experience of the programme is captured in Hani’s Story, a newly compiled case study highlighting the impact of the programme. It also showcases a real-life application of the Mayor of Bristol’s city commitment to young people’s progression and careers development.

Commitment to young people’s progression
In December 2016, Mayor Marvin Rees launched the Bristol Resilient City Strategy by renewing his pledge for diversity in the city, calling for greater support of B&ME young people in the work force. Stating,
we will deliver work experience and apprenticeships for every young person’, Mayor Rees believes that gaining quality work experience has a big impact on an individual’s progression opportunities and calls for city-wide industry support of the pledge.  

Shape My City delivers on this commitment. Through a year-long creative programme of workshops and site visits with inspiring professionals, the young participants gain key knowledge, skills and confidence to support their future career pathways. The participants meet and work with a wide range of professionals (architects, landscape designers, engineers, public artists, urban designers and planners) opening their eyes to the diverse professions available in the sector. The programme also enables participants to achieve their Arts Award Accreditation and offers one-to-one mentoring and volunteering opportunities.

Critically, like work experience, the programme develops practical and applicable skills. Each year The Architecture Centre presents a live project challenge to the participants. In 2015 they designed and built a sustainable shelter for the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project; view project film. In 2016 the young people worked with artist Scott Farlow to create a ‘Fun Palace’ temporary structure on the harbourside as part of the Centre’s anniversary Weekender; view the video.

Commitment to diversity
Supporting and inspiring young people from all backgrounds to progress in their careers also communicates the Architecture Centre’s diversity commitment. The Architecture Centre believes that architecture is for everyone. Amy Harrison, Learning and Participation Manager for the Centre, reflects:

‘We have a long track record of using the art form of architecture to inspire and involve all children and young people. We passionately believe the cultural offer of Bristol should benefit all communities in the city, and that the cultural and built environment sectors should reflect the diversity of contemporary Britain. By working together with industry professionals and universities we aim to give young people enriching career and participation opportunities.’

As an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation The Architecture Centre’s inclusive programming, through projects such as Shape My City, embodies the aspirations of ACE’s Creative Case for Diversity and the Government’s White Paper on Culture.