Students making models with St Bart's pupils.

Virtual reality, model-making and more…school children enjoy campus visit and develop designs for new learning space

Thirty primary school pupils visited the university last month as they are working with Loughborough Architecture students to design an outdoor classroom.

Children from St Bartholomew's C of E Primary School, based in Quorn, enjoyed facility tours, model-making, drawing and more when they met with University staff and students on Thursday 29 November.

Thirty-one second-year students from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering are working with the pupils and the wider community to develop a design for the ‘Discovery Zone’ – a new space for teaching and collaborative group activities that will be situated at the side of the main primary school building in a wooded area.

The pupils submitted their ideas for the learning space earlier in the year, and they spent the day on campus working in groups to combine concepts and produce five refined designs.

As part of the developmental process, the youngsters got to use state-of-the-art technology that allowed them to see and alter their designs in virtual reality (VR).

St Bart's student using VR.

A St Bart's pupil enjoying VR technology.

One pupil said: “This has been the best day of my entire life, I loved the virtual reality headset”, another commented: “I really liked today, and I like that I get to say what I want the classroom to look like, they don’t just build it”.

The collaboration between Loughborough and the school, known to many as St Bart’s, has come about as the University’s Architecture course features a ‘live project’ module.

The module aims to give students a glimpse into a career as an architect and teach them how to assess locations, work with clients and use data to create designs.

It contextualises different theories students have been taught during their studies and builds on the University’s history of making and learning through production.

The students say they have enjoyed working with the primary school pupils as the youngsters have suggested a reel of creative ideas for the classroom such as bringing the outside in and having a tree in the middle of the structure, a transparent roof to view the sky, and having a space for a kindness book that suggests a nice activity for the children to do each day.

Student Claudia Johnson said: “It’s great to hear what the pupils think, they come out with ideas we’d never have thought of and it pushes us to think how these things could be structurally possible.”

Luke Burns added: “It almost helps us find the creativity we lost as a result of growing up.”

Loughborough University student helps St Bart's pupil with their classroom design.

Architecture students and St Bart's pupils are developing designs for a Discovery Zone. 

The five designs created during the campus visit will be presented to the community at an event in the New Year and they will be asked to select their favourite idea.

It is hoped by the end of January 2019 the students will have a well-developed brief and concept design that they can take to a professional architect or builder to move the project forward.

Professor Andrew Dainty, Dean of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, commented: “We were really impressed with the energy and creativity of the St Bart’s children in developing their designs with our architecture students and staff.

“For our students, the project has enabled them to engage with the end users of a live project, working with them to develop a brief and co-create an inspiring learning space. We can’t wait to see the winning design developed in the New Year.”

Head Teacher Judith Boston and Assistant Head Teacher Sonya Campbell say it is “inspiring to see how the children have embraced the project”.

In a joint statement, they said: “The pupils have really enjoyed working alongside the students and exploring the technology which have combined to bring their visions to life.

“We are looking forward to returning to the university to select the design which provides us with a flexible learning space that can be used by whole classes as well as providing opportunities for groups of children to engage in collaborative projects.”

St Bart’s is currently in the process of raising and securing funds for the new learning space.