About Creative Spaces

Creative Spaces is a not for profit annual design competition the purpose of which is to encourage S2 pupils from various secondary schools, to participate in a day long Challenge that has a direct interface between schools, further education, the design professions and the construction industry.

So, what do the schools have to do? Firstly, they have to register to take part and once successful, have to properly prepare for the event. Part of this preparation involves taking photographs in the community in which they live as well as completing a preliminary questionnaire. It is that easy. On the day of the event, they are set the following tasks:-

  • DESIGN a building from a brief
  • Prepare outline sketches of their DESIGN
  • Construct a 1.50 scale model of their DESIGN
  • Calculate the approximate construction costs of their DESIGN
  • Make a 2-minute presentation to the judges and the rest of the participants.

Dundee and Angus College, who are one of a series of continuous supporters that have helped give Creative Spaces establish a sound financial footing, make available their award winning venue ‘The Space’, and technical workshops nearby which are the perfect contemporary environment for the students to spend their day away from the rigours of conventional education. The College has expertly played the role of hosts since the event began in 2004 and the event can accommodate up to 30 schools and their four person teams (two boys, two girls).

The initial motivation for such a specific event was to use the knowledge, experience and expertise of a small group of volunteers, to help stimulate and inspire local school pupils to perhaps consider a career in the design related professions and/or in the construction industry.

The primary objectives were to increase awareness of their own potential, to raise their self-esteem, to give them belief in their abilities and increase their confidence. Schools from Dundee, Angus, Perth and Kinross and Fife councils participate and on 22 May 2019, a school from Clackmannanshire and one from Lerwick, Shetland will also be taking part. Over 1,100 S2 pupils have now participated.

The design competition apart, there has been considerable media interest with Radio Tay and Scottish Television having carried out ‘live interviews’ with some of the pupils and the organisers. We also encourage as much media and social media coverage as possible to promote the event to a wider audience.

The successful schools are rewarded for their efforts with a £600 cash prize for the winners and £300, £200 and £150 respectively for the three runners up. This must be expended in a manner that will contribute to the creativity aspirations of the school. There are also cash prizes for the winning pupils, certificates for the winning team and a purpose designed trophy. No one leaves empty handed and for every participating pupil there is relevant paraphernalia from the events’ supporters. Once all of the costs have been met any surplus funding is carried forward to the following years’ event.

Responding to positive feedback and building strong relationships between the supporting companies who are involved, the education authorities, the schools, their teachers and most important of all – the pupils – has been one of the key strengths of Creative Spaces. We believe that this is an event that is unique in Scotland (it may be unique in the UK…..) and empowers young people – even for a short time – to be part of a real world that opens their eyes and minds to design opportunities and unrestricted ambition. Team spirit, collaboration, skill sharing, practical and hands on working (free hand and technical drawing, model making etc), in conjunction with freedom of expression and creative enjoyment, are all at the heart of what makes the event such a success. One notable comment made by one observing teacher is that there is “thankfully” no access to the Internet, computers and mobile phones on the day of the event. “The ‘young people’ communicate with each other by talking, organising, managing, working very much together as a team and exercising dormant practical skills in a way that they do not normally do at school”. That statement alone speaks volumes for what Creative Spaces achieves.

Our website www.creativespaceschallenge.net provides access to past design challenges in a comprehensive archive, as well as all relevant information for this year’s event. There are also a number of information packs and video clips all aimed at assisting the schools to prepare. Please feel free to spend a little time looking at what has been achieved. You will be impressed! If you would like any more information about Creative Spaces, please contact jane.gall@nrsarchitects.com.

April 2019