Self-build land shelter gets its roof

Tom Hughes

I spend a great couple of days helping put the roof on the shelter Alina designed for Iona School in Nottingham. The shelter structure consists of 8 larch tree trunks supporting a circular deck and a plywood reciprocal frame roof. Now topped with turf it blends in with its woodland setting from some angles and takes on an almost temple-like appearance from others. The shelter will be used as an outdoor classroom for pupils at the school, which offers Steiner education with activities often based on the land. 

You can find out more about the shelter, the build process and the people involved at the project blog.

Adventure Play Centre

Tom Hughes

It's nice to get a recommendation and to support local projects!

This play centre is in need of extra space for an office and creche, and wants to make use of sunken no-man's land corner of their site. However they have no resources for the project until they get funding, and to get that they have to run the idea past the local planners and other stakeholders.

Sometimes in situations like this we can help to break the deadlock by putting a little bit of work in 'up front'. A local contact who we worked with on the Sneinton Trail project put us in touch with the play centre, we went to take a look, and turned out these simple drawings. It's a start.

On one level this is just a feel-good thing to do, but it isn't purely altruistic: it means that there might be a real project sometime in the future (one which would improve our community), we build up a huggable reputation, we might get another recommendation out of it, and we can write and illustrate some self promotional material like this.

Portfolio project
Creative spaces in schools

Tom Hughes

Working with Creative Partnerships, artists, teachers and school pupils, we have explored the idea of creativity and how spaces can be made which support creative activities. While space in schools is traditionally divided up using subject and year-group boundaries, educational theory is increasingly coming to recognise the value of project-based creative work.

"How will schools of the future adapt to support new ways of teaching and learning?"

We were approached by Creative Partnerships (now known as The Mighty Creatives) to get involved in two projects in local Nottingham schools.

Initially attracted by 2hD’s user-centric approach to design and interest in active consultation, artists working at Mellers Primary School asked us to help in the process of involving teachers and pupils in imagining a future creative space. We worked initially with the staff and artists to open up a conversation about ‘what might be’ at the school, understanding the problems of the existing building but also making the potentials more apparent. We then observed the work of the artists with the pupils, compiling and analysing some of the outputs from that process.

A second project followed at Manning Comprehensive School for Girls, an intense collaboration with a teacher and group of sixteen Year 9 pupils. The objective of the project was to explore the nature of ‘creativity’ as it relates to our work as architects. We ran a live design project with the pupils, taking them through the process of converting an existing crafts room into a flexible creative space.

Using examples of our own processes, inspiration from books and a visit to the art and design studios at Nottingham Trent University, we enabled the pupils to develop, present and debate their own design ideas. This culminated in an exhibition at which pupils from the whole school could vote for their preferred design of the new space. We then took those design ideas and worked them up into a presentation which will be used for fundraising to build the project.

2hD’s impact was in developing a lasting understanding of the creative processes and demonstrating to young people that creativity isn’t just about having good ideas. That has to happen within a framework of understanding the issue, consulting others and evaluating how far your ideas meet your original intentions.

2hD also acted as a bridge between the school and higher education which had a significant impact on the girls.
Jo Gogelescu, Deputy Head at Manning School for Girls

Portfolio project
Broadway School

Thibaut Devulder

As part of the nationwide programme Building Schools for the Future, 2hD were asked by Lathams Architects to work on the conceptual development of one of the exemplar designs — the renovation and rebuilding of an existing 1960s school to accommodate an additional 300 pupils on a tight inner city site, within a limited £15m budget.

Our consortium later on won the bid for the Building Schools for the Future programme in Birmingham.

We were approached at an early stage of the design process and we focused on: 

  • carrying out key site studies, including access and climatic factors,
  • developing the initial conceptual design,
  • replanning the building and site to accommodate a new flexible teaching model,
  • designing the interiors in response to the tight technical and financial constraints.

We worked closely with other consultants, including fire and structural engineers, landscape designers and education experts to integrate their input to the core of the design approach. 

Our approach: 

  • redesigning the school to ensure a friendly welcome and easy circulation for staff, pupils and the community.
  • Incorporating a deep understanding of the transition in teaching methods to allow this to happen naturally over time.
  • creating pleasant learning environments within the pressures of a tight budget and limited space on site.

We initially developed alternative design concepts exploring the subtle relationship between the school and the surrounding communities.

We initially developed alternative design concepts exploring the subtle relationship between the school and the surrounding communities

We sketched extensive and detailed views of the proposed teaching spaces to communicate design ideas to the client and the other members of the team

The evolution of educational methods was to be embedded into the design and we made sure that all teaching spaces were flexible to allow a smooth transition over time