Graduate Workshop: Creativity Can Lead to Change

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Stirling, Scotland’s heart. The old HMRC Building on King Street, an empty unloved building in the centre of the city. Unlocking its potential is about imagination and pragmatism. This was the subject of a one day workshop on November 5th, facilitated by Architecture and Design Scotland with Ice Cream Architecture, Creative Stirling, We are Snook and Stirling Councilas part of the ‘Start Up Street’ initiative. The project was local, but the message national: creativity can lead to change.

In this blog piece – originally published on Architects Journal – three of the participants in the workshop – Amy Brazenall, Ashley Mitchell and Jennifer Pirie – recent architecture graduates from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, share their experience:

As recently graduated architecture students, times are tough and jobs few and far between. We were contacted by A+DS about their one-day workshop to as a collaboration between creative communities in the cities and recent graduates. Accepting the challenge we were keen to demonstrate our creativity and imagination.

THE HMRC building is in the ideal location to provide space for the spring of creative local talent in the city. A temporary hotel could cultivate the spirit of vitality lacking at the heart of many city centres today.

The day provided a platform to discuss the opportunities for the arts and creative community to access a low rent, centrally located yet disused building. It also provided a creative challenge around identity; creative ideas to change negative stereotypes of the former use of the building and its current condition. Could we make it loved and relevant?

We participated in idea workshops on how best to use the building. Proposals included creating a flexible working space, production and learning facilities for a range of creative and skilled people within the city along with a welcoming community hub of information about various events taking place. The four-story building also has the potential to provide accommodation for visitors to the city; mixing guests with citizens, art with hospitality.

It is clear that the process of the building will be one of constant adaptation; visitors in one month will not have the same experience as those 6 months later. With creative interventions the HMRC building has the opportunity to showcase what the creative industries in the town have to offer, produce and potentially teach those who are willing to explore.

Throughout the day we explored the need for open communication between those involved in establishing this project and those the project is for. It was also apparent that identifying the specific needs of the local creative user would be paramount to its potential success and in cultivating the spirit of ‘uniqueness’ and specificity to Stirling the project could have. It is essential projects like this integrate their community’s ideas, skills and talents from the start to cultivate a sense of ownership and pride within the project.

Even if graduates have not yet been successful in finding work, we believe it is vital to get involved in architectural discourse and maintain creative momentum in such tough times. Design workshops, like the opportunity from Architecture and Design Scotland, give graduate students the opportunity to meet others in the same situation, those in related fields and learn valuable lessons from those more experienced through a range activities including team work, quick thinking and communication of ideas, which we are sure to find useful in finding our feet in the world of architecture.

Amy Brazenall, Ashley Mitchell and Jennifer Pirie
Graduates of the Scott Sutherland School, Robert Gordon University

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