Portfolio project
A living-room in a children's home

Tom Hughes

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the making. I spent Sunday volunteering at the site of our Childrens' Home project, helping them to get the building phase of their Living Room project underway.

The shared living room, before we started

It's been a fascinating project to be involved in. We were approached by The Mighty Creatives who were looking for someone who could work with the staff and residents at the Home to redesign their living room, making use of IT to communicate and visualise the process. In the end, we used StickyWorld and SketchUp with the LightUp plug-in… and if we could have found another software with a JoinedUp name, we'd have considered that too.

It's a tiny but intense project, and I found the design process really challenging. Working on occupied houses is always pretty involved, as being invited into the home requires a great deal of sensitivity to residents' preferences and relationships. At the same time, your own knowledge and experience as 'the professional' needs to be given a voice. As you'd imagine this particular living space is charged with a lot of meaning for many different people... But, by working together, we gradually achieved a design that everyone could take pride in.

The idea is that as much of the making work as possible is done by the staff and residents of the home, but I invited myself along on Sunday to lend a hand as they got underway. The electrian had already been in to do the first fix, so the next stage was setting out the studwork for the 'portal' feature, the lighting raft and the storage/entertainment wall. We made pretty good progress- a bit slowed by the effort of breaking up the world's densest fireplace hearth, but by the end of the day the design was beginning to pop off the page and in to the space. I loved being there to see this happen and hope to be back again as the project progresses.

In the meantime, we made a little film to celebrate the success of the collaborative design, and keep spirits up during the hard messy work ahead: