Ministry of Stories
Ministry of Stories
The Ministry of Stories is a creative writing and mentoring centre for young people based in east London. They asked us to work with thirty 10 year-olds to co-design the ‘Embassy for the Children’s Republic of Shoreditch’; a pop up summer scheme aimed at reaching new audiences to participate in their writing programmes. Young designers worked from briefs written by another group of children for the department of Cartography, the Childrens Global Postal Service, The Museum of Childhood Treasures, The Clerk of the Embassy and much more. We challenged the children to create their ideas in 3D and they made amazing models of all the features they could imagine from how each department would function to the physical furniture they needed to make it work.
We helped them to refine their ideas to create pieces of furniture, wall graphics and overall branding for their ‘Embassy’. We used our architectural design skills to scale up their ideas and draw detailed fabrication drawings at 1:1 scale so that a theatre set building company could fabricate the customised pieces of furniture.
From April – May 2012 we ran weekly design workshops followed by 1 week of supporting volunteers to build and install the embassy which was open to the public for 6 weeks from June – July 2012.
The intention behind this project was that a year 4 class became the designers for the Embassy of the Children’s Republic of Shoreditch and we would simply help them turn their ideas into reality. Like all good designers we started with a site visit to see and analyse the space we were charged with transforming before exploring the briefs that had been set by another group of children. Working in groups of 5 the children established what features they needed their designs to accommodate and began to collect ideas and sketch out possibilities. As their ideas would be quickly transformed into real features we jumped straight into model building encouraging the children to let their imaginations run wild and use the materials from within the make:good model making kit.
After 4 weeks each group had a detailed idea and we could begin to transform them into drawings to send to experienced set builders. In the final session we shared our plans for their ideas and suddenly the project seemed real to them: we really were going to build and install their work.
Over a two week period set builders and carpenters transformed their ideas into full scale pieces and delivered them into the space in their raw format. The finishing touches and paintwork were delivered by a team of 40 local volunteers to recreate the children’s imagination as accurately as possible. Everything from the aeroplane forming part of the internal postal service to the hand scanner allowing you to enter the deepest depths of the embassy came directly from the children’s ideas and you could see their delight once the space was opened.
The embassy was open for 6 weeks with children and parents from the neighbourhood attending as they felt they had helped to create this curious environment.