Two little girls reading in the park

Designing an outdoor storytelling space

The aim of the live community-based project My-self, My-place and My-Space was to design an outdoor storytelling space to be located in Stonehouse Creek. 

The design team comprised first year BA (Hons) Architecture, final year BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies, BA (Hons) Education students and children from High Street Primary Academy School and St Peter’s primary schools. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all meetings were held via zoom or teams.

Children were asked to document their key people’s community stories by drawing a map of the key places in their community and explained the stories associated with these places to the students. The students’ will draw on these in the design of the story telling space. This space will be develop when the COVID-19 Government/University policy allows.

The design programme

  • 22 October: BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and BA (Hons) Education students created videos and met children to explain the task – please see embedded videos below.  

  • 2–5 November: Children worked in groups to create a map that represented their community’s stories. 

  • 6 November: The children presented their map and explained their community’s stories to the BA (Hons) Architecture, BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and BA (Hons) Education students.
  • 9–12 November: In consultation with BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and BA (Hons) Education students, BA (Hons) Architecture students generated a moving poster based on the children’s ideas and stories – please see embedded videos below.

  • 27 November: BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies, BA (Hons) Education students and BA (Hons) Architecture students present moving posters. Children’s feedback was used to develop the design of the story telling space.

Why embed the live community-based project in our pedagogy?

This activity provides BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies and BA (Hons) Education students the space and time to reflect and articulate their principles that will guide them in their future practice when creating learning environments for those they work with.

My-self, My-place and My-Space provides a ‘real’ life experience for architecture students within the first three months of their arrival to University education. The entire process of this project is organised to match with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Works. This is a framework, that guides the architectural profession to organise, run and complete any type of architectural project. By participating in the project architecture students become familiar with what is involved in the making of architecture.

Feedback from students

  • “Loved this module, it has really helped me think and reflect on my beliefs about early years practice which I will use in the future.”

  • “I found working with the children the best part of the module. Seeing them coming up on their own ideas on what they wanted and how they would like their space to be created.” 

  • “Interesting to speak to another course and get their perspective of the assignment.”

  • “Really exciting project that I was PROUD to be a part of.”

An authentic learning experience

Finally, for all students the live community-based project provides students an authentic learning experience to draw upon their discipline’s subject knowledge and apply this knowledge to the design making process.

This live community project happens each year. Past collaborations include children from Freshlings Nursery, Ham Drive Nursery School, Riverside Community Primary School and Yealmpstone Farm Primary School.