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Friday, 14 July 2017

Work Experience at the Building Exploratory by Katie Devlin

Over the past week, Katie Devlin (age 17) has been doing work experience with us here at the Building Exploratory. It's been a pleasure hosting her, and here are her insights about her experience:

During work experience at the Building Exploratory has been a great way to learn more about jobs involving history and to learn some London history on the way. Over the week I’ve helped to research the mills of the River Wandle and Bangladeshi immigration into King's Cross – which I’ve found easier said than done, battling with conflicting sources and sparse information. I also had a chance to meet their partner organization in the King's Cross Story Palace project, HistoryPin who were very friendly and gave me a second perspective on the industry.

View from my flat
One project I really enjoyed was documenting the King's Cross area from my perspective, with a mixture of family photos and new pictures, which I’ve written about on the Story Palace website. It was really interesting to examine my thoughts about the area, and take a trip down memory lane to really think about why the places I walk through every day matter to me, and why they should matter to the public. 

The outdoor gym which made a better playground than the one next door

On Thursday I took a trip to Merton Archives, where they were very helpful in finding sources about the mills, which weren’t available online, giving me a chance to test my research skills outside of Google – well worth 20 stops on the Northern line! I was really impressed by the dedication of the Mapping the Mills project volunteers, who were giving up their own time to research because of their passion for preserving history, an approach which has inspired me to try volunteering in the future.

Snapchatting my way through the Wandle: Map of Amery Mills, Merton

On my last day, I got to meet the Senior BEEs and the Islington Eyes, the two older adult groups, when we went on a guided walk along the Thames foreshore, finding lots of cool bits of pottery, glass and bone. My favourite item was a huge ships nail I found which was very impressive, although sadly not of great historical value.

Exploring the Thames foreshore
Forgotten treasure on the Thames foreshore
Overall my time at the Building Exploratory has been really positive and I’m definitely not looking forward to going back to school on Monday after such a great week.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Come join our new King's Cross project team!

We're looking for a Participation and Public Engagement Officer to join our team for an exciting new project King’s Cross Story Palace – exploring the heritage of King’s Cross over the past 100 years. 

The two-year heritage engagement project will be delivered in partnership with Historypin, and is supported by the National Lottery, through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The deadline for applications is 9am on Wednesday 30 November, and full details can be found here: Participation and Public Engagement Officer Job Details 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Summer Summary

September is already here and although the summer seems to have flown by, it’s been busy and eventful. Here's a short round up of our activities over the summer months...

Listed Islington 
We've recently launched Our Eyes on Islington – a two-year project in partnership with Historic England and the LB of Islington that will review Islington’s Locally Listed buildings with a team of volunteers and make it publicly accessible through a bespoke website. The existing list has not been reviewed for the last 20 years, and given London’s fast pace of change, the project is timely and hopes to uncover and celebrate the borough’s rich built environment heritage.
Volunteer Induction: Building Surveying

So far we’ve had a very positive response to our call out for volunteers and have hosted a series of training sessions and events including a visit to the Islington Local History Centre and talks from industry professionals from Historic England and the Islington Society.

Volunteers at Islington Local History Centre Archives
With more events scheduled for the autumn, and 1,200 buildings to be surveyed, our volunteers certainly have their work cut out for them! But their enthusiasm and interest is overwhelming and we are looking forward to their findings!

Senior BEEs and LLDC Consultation  
In mid-August, our Senior BEEs were invited for a consultation session at the London Aquatics Centre about the proposals for the new Cultural and Education District masterplan in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Senior BEEs discussing with LLDC and Soundings. Photo courtesy: Soundings
Hosted by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), LDA Design, architects Allies & Morrison and Soundings, the BEEs were given a tour of the temporary exhibition outlining the plans for Stratford Waterfront and UCL East. The session was very informative with discussion topics ranging from building design concepts and public spaces to public transport, pedestrian access, building materials and size.

Senior BEEs talk building heights and public transport with Allies & Morrison
The consultation builds on the Senior BEEs’ long-term interest and engagement with the Olympic site, and group members were keen to voice their views on the planned development, including how the scheme can be designed to meet the needs of older people. The group were particularly inspired and excited about sense of scale of the development and the plans to include new complementary venues for cultural organisations such as the V&A and Sadler’s Wells

Summer Stroll in EC1  
The August sunshine provided perfect conditions for our Summer Stroll in EC1 as part of our ongoing project Our Place Too funded by the People's Health Trust*. Members of the Islington Eyes came together with Age UK Islington service users for an urban exploration, a walking tour focusing on the ever-changing streets around Old Street.

EC1 Strolling through light and shadows at The Bower
Setting off from Ironmonger Row Baths the route took the walkers past contrasting scenes including tranquil gardens, housing estates, building sites, a hospital, commercial developments and two cemeteries. Stopping regularly to take in the buildings and consider the history, those who live in the area shared their memories and knowledge of a neighbourhood in the midst of intensive change

*The project has been made possible with the funding from People's Health Trust using money raised by HealthPromote through The Health Lottery.

Friday, 11 March 2016

New Perspectives on Technology and Drawing for the Senior BEEs and Islington Eyes

This week our Senior BEEs and Islington Eyes groups participated in an iPad drawing workshop at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Guided by Wilson Yau, art teacher and RIBA’s Library Digital Outreach Manager, participants were encouraged to overcome their fears and reservations about their drawing abilities and to embrace new technology in a creative way.

In contrast to arguments that technology can be anti-social, isolating and promotes a sedentary lifestyle, the iPad technology had a positive effect on the groups making members feel more inclined to try and experiment with drawing, an activity they would not otherwise have considered.

Participants  also developed new skills in using technology, while gained a greater appreciation for the environment through closely observing the fabric of the building with its various wall carvings, textures, materials, and levels.

All in all, it was a challenging but rewarding experience, inspiring our group members to interact with the built environment in new ways. Here are some of the drawings that were created:



Monday, 22 February 2016

Spring Term Programmes for the Senior BEEs and Islington Eyes

The Spring term for our older people’s groups is now underway, and we have an exciting programme of activities for each. Full details can be found here in our programme leaflets. 

If you have any questions about the programmes, or would be interested in getting involved in one our groups – either as an older person, a volunteer, or a potential session host, then please get in touch!


Friday, 5 February 2016

Exciting News to Kick-Start the New Year

Happy New Year! ... a little belated perhaps for the UK, but Chinese New Year is just around the corner!

So far 2016 has got off to a busy start... 

Last week we took part in a Living Wandle Landscape Partnership event, which began as a relaxing walk along this unique river. We were reminded just how fantastic the River Wandle is as we stumbled across the Watermeads - a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Today, the Watermeads is maintained as a nature reserve where you can experience the combination of natural beauty and urban history, while taking in a breath of fresh air!
River Wandle at Watermeads Nature Reserve

Opposite the Watermeads sit three Mill Cottages, commonly referred to as the Fisheries Cottages. The cottages are Grade II listed and include elements dating from the late 18th and 19th Centuries.

Fisheries Cottages during the summer months

The event provided an opportunity for us to preview our Wandle Treasures map and to test the heritage knowledge of workshop participants.

Detail of Wandle Treasures map

We are excited to announce that we will very soon be launching our Wandle Treasures Crowdfunding Campaign. The campaign aims to raise funds to tour the illustrated map by artist StephanieTheobald to community venues along the river. The map captures the rich heritage of the River Wandle depicting historic treasures researched by our team of enthusiastic volunteers during 2015. Funds raised will also support a programme of events including artist-run workshops, talks and river walks. 

Details of the crowdfunding campaign, and how you can get involved, will follow soon! In the meantime, if you would like to hear more about the Wandle Treasures map or you can help in any way, please let us know.

*The Wandle Treasures is a volunteer-led local heritage project where we identified heritage treasures along the course of the River Wandle, which spans four London boroughs (Wandsworth, Merton, Sutton and Croydon). The final selection has been drawn by artist Stephanie Theobald and will be uploaded to a website along with an interactive map on the Living Wandle Digital Archive. The project has been delivered in collaboration with Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme as part of the Industrial Heritage Recording Project.  

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Highlights of 2015

As 2015 draws to an end, it’s time to reflect on the year gone by, and what a year is has been!  

We continue to enjoy uncovering London’s rich heritage; exploring contemporary and historic architectural sites; and inspiring learning and new perspectives by engaging people with the built environment and providing opportunities for them to shape its future.

Here's a summary of our activities across 2015, and a big thank you to all those who contributed to helping make these projects happen:

Senior BEEs and Islington Eyes 
Both our older peoples groups continue to meet regularly and are keeping active through our Spring, Summer and Autumn term programmes of activities. 2015 highlights include:  a site visit to the Bishopsgate Goodsyard development; a consultation session with the Hackney Street Scene team; a tour of Hodgson Gabb Studios; a private exhibition tour at the Royal College of Physicians; a visit to the Cally Clock Tower; a film screening of Through the Hole in the Wall; a visit to RIBA on lnternational Older People’s Day; a guided tour of the historic buildings of Whitehall; and a walking tour of King’s Cross.

Another highlight of 2015 is that our Islington group (previously known as the Islington Architecture & History Group) now has an official name: the Islington Eyes!
This year, we’ve also set up an Older Person’s Advisory Group consisting of members from both the Senior BEEs and Islington Eyes. The aim of the group is to help inform and provide suggestions across the work that we do.

Our Place Too
This newly launched project is funded by the People's Health Trust, using money money raised from Health Promote through the Health Lottery. Working with older people living in two neighbourhoods either side of City Road, the project seeks to improve their health and wellbeing by facilitating discussion about the massive changes taking place on their doorstep. 

Places of Worship
2015 marked the third year of a visit to the Suleymaniye Mosque in East London and Sandy's Row Synagogue with Year 8 from the Bridge Academy.

Wandle Treasures 
A volunteer-led local heritage project where we identified and researched heritage ‘treasures’ along the course of the River Wandle, which spans four London boroughs (Wandsworth, Merton, Sutton and Croydon). The final selection has been drawn by artist Stephanie Theobald and will be uploaded to a website along with an interactive map.

The project has been delivered in collaboration with Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme as part of the Industrial Heritage Recording Project, and aimed to engage people in the local heritage of the area, making it more accessible.

To extend the life of the project, we will soon be launching a crowdfunding campaign to frame and exhibit the unique artist illustrated map of heritage treasures, touring it across the four London boroughs. More details will follow in the new year.

This is Our East 20
Students from the University of East London and Year 8 at Chobham Academy, the newest and only school on the Olympic Park site, created view finders with Mobile Studio. An online resource has also been produced, documenting and celebrating the work of the students.

Revitalising Peckham Rye
The second stage of community engagement, speaking to local groups and residents, and consulting on plans for facilities in Peckham Rye Park & Common.

Upcoming Projects for 2016:
We are currently working in partnership with History Pin to develop an Heritage Lottery Fund  community heritage project in the King’s Cross area. The aim of the project is to create a digital archive through a series of local community activities.  More will be revealed in the new year... 

Islington's Locally Listed Buildings
Another exciting project coming up in 2016 is a review of Islington’s Local List of Buildings for Historic England with a view to then making it publicly accessible. A group of volunteers will be enlisted to research, document and record the list, which includes over 1000 buildings.

Thank you once again to our many collaborators, clients, friends and volunteers! It’s been an exciting year and we look forward to the year ahead!