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Architecture students design climate hub

A group of Architecture students from the University of Sheffield partnered with Can Do South Yorkshire to imagine and design a pilot climate hub, envisioning a city centre space where people can collaborate, socialise and take climate action.

Live Project: engagement activities, eye-catching designs and climate action

The Live Works building, where the students were based for six weeks, is situated in Sheffield on The Moor, a popular shopping area with cafes, restaurants and leisure activities. As the city centre began to get busier, the hustle and bustle meant there were plenty of people who were keen to talk about what they would like to see in a climate hub, as well as what environmental issues they would like to learn more about. From voting bins where people answer questions using their litter, to interactive online surveys and chatting about the climate, the students engaged people in climate issues using unique and creative activities.

As well as their public-facing work, the students were working hard behind the scenes to envision a climate hub for the Can Do South Yorkshire project. In the early stages of the Live Project, they dreamed big – from buildings with libraries, community centres and museums, to refugee community spaces, to outdoor gardens and beautiful green spaces, the ideas for climate hubs helped us to imagine the direction we could take our future work in. Then, the students narrowed down these visions to our current brief, designing pop-up, portable furniture that we can use at our events.

The students focused on the climate throughout the project, using good quality sustainable and recycled materials. They were inspired by a visit to Scrap Dragon, a non-profit organisation based in Burngreave, Sheffield, who provide recycled materials to schools, nurseries, community groups and more. Using these materials, they were able to repurpose items that were intended for landfill. The bigger items that they designed, such as collapsible chairs and an activity trolley, were designed to be made with recycled wood.

Collaboration between students and organisations

Every year, the University of Sheffield’s Architecture department partners with charities and non-profit organisations as part of their Live Projects. These are real projects, with budgets, client briefs and time constraints, giving the students valuable work experience as well as providing the partner organisations with an affordable and high quality service to help their work grow. In some cases, the projects involve actual building, and others focus on design or  In every case, the project is happening in real time with real people. The projects place a large responsibility on the groups to deliver; as opposed to most student projects, the Live Projects are public and accountable.

Award-winning project!

The team of students won the Building Design Partnership Live Project award at the Sheffield School of Architecture’s end of year show in July. This is awarded to the best overall performance in a Live Project, and was awarded to the students because they delivered consistently excellent work in their public engagement, strategic visions and detailed design.

What’s next for Can Do South Yorkshire, based on public feedback?

Can Do South Yorkshire is a project shaped by you. We want to listen to your ideas and feedback to create a grassroots project that is constantly growing and adapting. You can share your ideas and feedback with us using our contact form (link). We’d love to hear about what you want to see in our digital and physical climate hubs!

‘Recycling sometimes seems like it’s not helping. It’d be great to hold big shops that sell plastic accountable, rather than consumers.’ We totally agree! We want to make sure that big polluters are held accountable, as well as empowering you to take climate action in your home, community, workplace or school. On our community page, you can learn how to push for systemic change through volunteering with one of our partner organisations.

‘Giving out simple little tips on how we can take small steps to make changes, and how it can help others.’ Our digital hub is packed full of articles teaching you how to make small changes to help the planet. We found that there was a lot of inaccurate or confusing information out there, so we wanted to create a resource for everyone in South Yorkshire who wants to protect our planet.

‘I imagine it would be like a community centre – a place I could volunteer at.’ It was great to hear that people were interested in volunteering opportunities to help their communities. Can Do South Yorkshire is partnered with many different organisations, many of which are actively looking for volunteers. You can find these volunteering opportunities through our Community website section.

We would love to hear your feedback on our website – click here to share your views.

Live Projects – more information:

To read more about the University of Sheffield’s Live Projects, go to their website.