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Students presenting ideas to local community members

Students present ideas to revitalise local museum

Postgraduate students from Loughborough University have presented creative proposals to bring more visitors to the town’s Old Rectory Museum.

Each year, students on the Service Design for Social Innovation module at Loughborough Design School explore solutions to a real-life, community-based problem.

This year, their brief was to encourage wider community use of the heritage site, which has faced challenges in attracting both volunteers and visitors.

Collaborating with key stakeholder groups, including Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society (LAHS), The Crop Club, and Fearon Hall, the students co-designed a range of solutions, responding to research findings and user feedback.

Presented at an event at Fearon Hall last month, the ideas included a sustainable community café, historical role-playing game events for children, a sensory garden for dogs and augmented reality experiences.

One group proposed a co-working space which utilises specially designed spotlights for using the space at night, whilst another designed climbing structures which reflect the history and heritage of the building.

As part of the project, each student group produced a video prototype which demonstrates how the solution would work.

Dr Carolina Escobar-Tello, Lecturer in Industrial/Product Design and module leader commented: “It is increasingly important to bring teaching outside the studio walls and create opportunities for students to deal with current social challenges, and embed their learning in a practical way.

“This is what the Service Design for Social Innovation projects allow the students to achieve. In this setting, traditional boundaries between students, educators, stakeholders and end users become blurred.

“It offers an enriching experience for all parties involved in such projects by bringing people together, adding value, and reflecting the true nature of these bottom-up collaborations.”

Speaking about the collaboration and its impact, Alison Mott, Treasurer of LAHS and a long-standing volunteer at the Old Rectory Museum, said: “I was blown away by how much effort the students put into the project, from canvassing opinion on the museum from people in the town, to extensively researching the viability of each of their ideas. 

“The consultation meetings at Fearon Hall drew in a body of people interested in the Old Rectory who otherwise we would have known nothing about and who look set to swell our volunteer numbers. 

“Best of all, we’ve gained a youth perspective on the Old Rectory – an age group crucial to its long-term future – and have been introduced to solutions completely outside of our experience. 

“Several of the groups signposted viable ways to make those solutions possible and we intend to move forward with some of these ideas, including chasing potential sources of funding and establishing further links with the University.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/85

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough was ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

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