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Architecture students design calm spaces for local community

Robert Gordon University students design therapeutic landscape and active spaces with CLAN and Transition Extreme

Posted by Alex Diggins | June 30, 2018 | Bricks & mortar

Architecture students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) have been tasked with designing innovative spaces for two Aberdeen organisations as part of a new learning and teaching philosophy, ‘Community as an extended classroom’. The project saw students work alongside cancer charity, CLAN, and outdoor sports centre, Transition Extreme, to design new outdoor spaces. 

The project is part of a module which focuses on understanding relationships between people and their environments. The coursework objective was to train students to investigate urban design then generate design ideas to reflect the needs of real clients. The students met with the clients to discuss and later present their ideas, supporting their designs with graphical materials.

Susanne Shepherd, Communications & Marketing Manager at CLAN, said: “Each group took the CLAN brief and produced creative and imaginative work. From the initial meeting the CLAN team had with the students to the final presentation of the ideas, we were struck by the enthusiasm and professionalism of the group.”

Transition Extreme’s vision was the regeneration of ambiguous and undefined outdoor spaces into active and more inclusively designed zones for use by the wider public. Grahame Paterson, the CEO of Transition Extreme, said: “It is priceless for organisations like Transition Extreme to be able to work in partnership with the Robert Gordon University, and we are delighted that this latest project together showcases the value of the relationship.

The ‘community engagement’ teaching methods have been implemented by Dr Quazi Zaman since 2010. He commented: “I believe this way of teaching helps build architecture students’ confidence as well as their practical skills. This method of learning is pragmatic, engaging and more professional than entirely classroom teaching.” 

Connor Stephen, a student involved in the Transition Extreme project, added: “My team and I gained a lot of knowledge regarding the practicality of the urban development from this project. During our research and exploration, we came to a conclusion that for a development of this scale to be successful it needs to be finely tuned and developed for the surrounding context.”

The projects build on previous outreach exercises undertaken in the past five years have included working with school pupils at Portlethen Primary School, the Robert Gordon College and residents of the Hutcheon and Seamount tower blocks. The students’ designs for CLAN and Transition Extreme are being developed for further research and publication in the near future. 


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