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empowering future generations: shedkm’s education initiatives

The infusion of fresh ideas and innovative perspectives from younger generations is a vital part of designing our built environment. We recognise this necessity and have long championed the importance of nurturing young talent and broadening access to architectural education. Through a variety of initiatives from our London, Liverpool and Manchester studios and partnerships with organisations across the country, we are helping to positively construct the future of our profession.

We recently caught up with our Education Atelier Lead and Lead Architect, Claire Yates to give more insight into shedkm’s education initiatives:

Q1: Can you give an introduction to the importance shedkm place on education within the practice?

At the heart of our ethos is the belief that education is a cornerstone of professional development and social mobility. This belief drives our involvement in educational activities, aimed at inspiring and equipping the next generation of architects and designers.

Q2: What specific educational initiatives does shedkm currently engage in?

We currently sponsor two national education programmes – Regeneration Brainery targets 14- to 21-year-olds unfamiliar with opportunities in the property industry, and the PLACED Academy’s creative programmes for 14-18 year olds. We are involved with PLACED on several education projects, including our Grove Street development by the Regenda Group. We are actively involved in a number of workshops which run through the school holidays, providing guidance and feedback to young people on the tasks they are set. We also provide work experience opportunities for PLACED Alumni students.

Our collaborative efforts with other architectural practices in London through initiatives like Build the Way demonstrates a shared vision for an accessible and inclusive route into architecture. This 9-month entry-level architecture traineeship symbolises a commitment to rethinking architectural education and training, aiming to make the profession more accessible to all.

Several of our employees are invited to provide feedback to students at university crit sessions, as well as holding talks, and we have recently taken part in careers events at colleges. Our Managing Director has also held external examiner positions to support the alignment of educational development with practice.

Q3: How do you integrate these educational efforts into the daily workings of shedkm?

We provide practice-wide mentoring to our junior staff on an informal basis, helping them to develop in their architectural career.

Beyond sponsoring, we also directly contribute to the educational journey of aspiring architects. The practice has been involved in several education projects, including workshops that run through school holidays, offering guidance and feedback to young participants. This hands-on approach extends to providing work experience opportunities, ensuring that theory is complemented with practical insight into the architectural profession.

Q4: What impact might shedkm’s educational efforts have on the practice and the wider community?

We like to share what we do because we are passionate about our work and we hope that our educational efforts have enlightened the younger generation and inspired them to pursue a career in architecture.

The impact of our educational initiatives extends beyond the individual participants to enrich the practice and the wider community. Sharing knowledge and experience not only prepares young people for future careers in architecture but also injects fresh perspectives and ideas into shedkm’s projects. This exchange is a source of mutual inspiration, driving both innovation and passion within the field.

Q5: Looking forward, how does shedkm plan to evolve its educational initiatives?

Our long-standing involvement with the RIBA Future Architects student mentoring scheme since 2017 is a testament to our dedication to guiding future professionals. By offering students insights into the practical aspects of architecture, from site visits to portfolio development, we are helping to bridge the gap between education and professional practice.

As we look to the future, we plan to continue and expand our educational initiatives, reaching out to even more young people, including those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with architecture. This commitment to education and diversity is not just about building a more inclusive profession; it’s about shaping the environments we all live in, ensuring they are designed with insight, care, and a deep understanding of community needs.

Q6: How can individuals or organisations get involved with or benefit from shedkm’s educational efforts?

For those interested in benefiting from or contributing to our educational efforts, there are ample opportunities to collaborate. Whether through work experience placements, mentorship during employment, or teaming up on educational projects, shedkm’s initiatives offer valuable ways to engage with and contribute to the architectural community. Teaming up with organisations means we can reach a wider audience and hopefully benefit us, them and most importantly young people.

Q7: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring architects about the importance of education in their career?

For those embarking on a career in architecture, getting directly involved in the industry and related events can provide crucial insights and connections. Experiences like these not only enrich one’s understanding of the profession but also highlight the importance of personal expression and the varied roles within architecture. As our initiatives show, the journey through architectural education and into professional practice is not just about acquiring skills; it’s about building relationships, embracing opportunities, and contributing to a vibrant and diverse architectural community.

It also allows young people to build connections which can be very helpful when applying for work. Speaking from personal experience – I was very grateful to have an informal meeting with shedkm during my second year of university which eventually led to a Part II Architectural Assistant job offer.

shedkm’s dedication to education reflects a broader vision for the future of architecture — one where access, diversity, and innovation lead the way in creating more inclusive and inspiring built environments. Through our comprehensive educational efforts, we are not just designing spaces; we are helping to build the architects of tomorrow.