Volunteers studying at the University of the West of England have been working with Shape My City, a youth participation project for 15-19 year olds across Bristol delivered by the Architecture Centre. It is an opportunity for young people to get involved with industry professionals, city developments, and to gain new knowledge, skills and confidence.

Shape My City is targeted at girls and young people from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds and aims to empower young people to play a more active role in shaping the future of their city.

Participation in the project offers volunteers the chance to work with and learn from built environment and design professionals while achieving Arts Award accreditation. Volunteers also given the opportunity to develop a manifesto and to share their creativity and ideas with a wider audience across the city.

The Shape My City project aims to develop knowledge and skills about design, public art, landscaping, sustainability, planning and citizenship and develop understanding and appreciation of the art form of architecture and the impact it has on young people’s lives. By taking part in the project, student volunteers become part of ‘real-life’ design processes, and therefore key players in decision-making about the spaces that affect them in their city.

During July 2015, Shape My City undertook a live ‘hands-on’ sustainable building project, collaboratively designing and constructing a community shelter, documented online as ‘#livebuild’. Built from local and sustainable materials including earth, wood and clay, the shelter is located on the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project in East Bristol and is part of celebrating Bristol’s year as European Green Capital.

The shelter will be a positive addition to the Asylum Seekers Allotment Project – a warm place to spend time cooking and talking together and a retreat after working on the allotment in all weather conditions. Shape My City participants spent a week planning, clearing, digging and building to create the fantastic structure.

‘The building is absolutely amazing. We were up in the garden all day in the rain today and it was just perfect to have a real shelter to be warm in. We all sat round together and it felt so good’. – Emmy, Asylum Seeker Allotment Project coordinator.

Students from the University of the West of England joined forces with Engineers without Borders and Tangentfield Architects to work on the excellent #livebuild project. It was a great opportunity to bring together volunteers, students, young people and professionals to collaboratively design and build a real-life structure to really benefit the community in Bristol.

Applications are now open for the 2016 Shape My City programme. To find out more, please get in touch with info@architecturecentre.co.uk.