Exploring Edges

RIBA Design Quest Summer School - Exploring Edges: Inside and Outside


RIBA Summer School - Design Quest

Five day series of workshops in response to RIBA Beyond Borders Programme
for children aged 6–10 years
Programme developed and delivered  with Ceri Williams

Full details


Over the course of the week we undertook a series of investigations and experiments, looking at how architects around the world react to the demands of the climate to design buildings that shelter us from the wind, sun and rain. Through drawing, model making and materials testing we developed skills as architectural designers, putting these to the test on the last day by designing and making a shelter.



Day 1: WIND! - How do structures stay standing in the wind?

The week begins with an introduction to the workshop and an overview of what an architect does, and how you will become architectural designers over the next week.

In the morning we will look at examples of buildings from around the world drawn from the RIBA archive of photographs, to investigate how different types of structural frame resist forces like the wind and gravity. Working in small groups you will build and test paper models that are strong enough to hold a small weight, before developing these in the afternoon into your own individual design. These paper structures will then be tested against an onslaught of fans and hairdryers to see which shapes best resist the wind to stay standing.

Day 2: SUN! - How do buildings and materials shade us from the sun?

In the morning we will look at examples of different buildings from around the world and investigate how they keep us cool and shady in different climates. In groups we will build a scale model to try and create shade at different times of day, to learn about how the geographical location and sun-paths influence architectural design. In the afternoon you will develop your individual shady space design, using a selection of clear, translucent and solid materials in your model. We will use cyanotype (light sensitive) paper to test where the light and dark areas are in your model designs, and explore how a building design can create patterns and atmosphere with shade and light

Day 3: RAIN! - How we stay dry inside building when it rains?

In the morning we will look at examples of different buildings from around the world and investigate how their occupants stay dry using different materials to shed water and resist damp. In groups we will test out different materials to see which will keep water out of a model house, exploring how materials can be jointed and overlapped. After lunch you will make your own choice from different materials to make a model building capable of keeping its occupants dry. At the end of the day we will test these models out in a model monsoon, to see which materials and methods work best to keep the insides dry.

Day 4: BIG SHELTER DESIGN! - How do we draw and model a building before it’s constructed?

This will be a day of preparation before Friday’s Big Shelter Build. We will replay videos and photographs of the models built over the first three days, to see what we can learn from our experimentation with structures, form and materials. We will look at images from the RIBA’s exhibitions and archives to explore the ways that architects draw and model buildings to before construction. Using everything we have learnt we will then draw our own designs for a structure than can shelter us from wind, sun or rain. In the afternoon you will work in pairs to build a scale model of your final design, using the materials available on the Big Build day.

At the end of the day we will document our designs and you can take home all of the models you have produced over the week.

Day 5: BIG SHELTER BUILD! - A day outdoors building a shelter.

Over the last day you will work in pairs to construct a structure big enough for you to shelter inside. In the morning, we will focus on building the structure and frame which will create the form or shape of the shelter. In the afternoon, we will add cladding to create areas of shade and to protect the shelter from the rain. At the end of the day we will test our shelters against the forces of nature, exposing them to the wind, sun and rain. At the end of the day participants will receive a certificate in recognition of their expertise as architectural designers, and the wonderful models, drawings and structures that have made over the course of the week


Videos courtesy of Ceri Williams