On 6th March, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, in partnership with London Marathon Events Ltd and prestigious international architecture firm HKS Architects, was delighted to welcome nearly 50 pupils in years 9 and 10 to learn about careers in architecture. The day was designed to build on the excitement of the Trust’s recent competition run in partnership with London Marathon Events for aspiring architects to design a new mile marker for this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
After being welcomed by the Trust’s Chief Executive, who herself ran the Virgin Money London Marathon last year, Ben Cooper from London Marathon Events gave students a flavour of the excitement and impact of the Marathon, including their work to make the event more ecologically sustainable. Alfonso Padro, Principal at HKS Architects, inspired the students with a range of architecture projects from around the world – from a small school in East London to a £2 billion sports stadium in Los Angeles – before they broke into groups to work on a series of activities highlighting different aspects of the role of an architect. The students tackled a series of tasks linked to the London Marathon, including using a brief to create their own innovative designs for mile markers along the marathon route, and learning about the practicalities of design through building their own finishing line.
This collaboration between the Trust and London Marathon Events to design the mile markers reflects Stephen Lawrence’s aspiration to become an architect, as well as his love of running – he was a member of the Cambridge Harriers running club and competed in the Mini London Marathon in 1988.
The students, who came from three London-based schools and one school in Manchester, also had the opportunity to meet members of the team who won the competition, Chantal Banker, Athis Rashid and Haider Bokarie, who are themselves currently studying at the University of Huddersfield and team members from some of the shortlisted teams. As well as being able to talk to and learn from the HKS Architects team, staff from the Arena Group, who are responsible for building the mile markers, were also on hand to answer questions.
Alfonso Padro, Principal at HKS Architects, said “As an Ambassador for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, I know just how important the partnership with London Marathon Events is. If we can give young people the chance to work on a real-life challenge, like designing a mile marker, and see the work that architects do, then we believe we can inspire a new generation to see what’s possible and pursue a career in this field. It’s been fantastic to see the students take on this challenge today – I have no doubt that many of them could be a great success in architecture or design in the future.”
Jake Armstrong, Careers Lead at Addey and Stanhope School in Deptford, said “Lots of our students are developing a real passion and interest in design and architecture. Giving them the practical challenge of designing a mile marker for an inspirational event like the London Marathon brings what we do in school to life. We know that getting our young people to meet employers and experience days like this will keep them focussed on education and training – it can change their lives and inspire them.”
Sonia Watson, Chief Executive of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust said ‘The Virgin Money London Marathon is such an iconic event, it’s great to see it inspiring students’ creativity and learning. The sessions have today have given students a real taster of both the excitement and the practical challenges of being an architect working on real life projects.’