Journalist Veronica Simpson reports on a school visit to Penoyre & Prasad in June.

In June the P&P office hosted a visit from seven secondary school pupils from Croydon and Kingston, who were taking part in the Sorrell Foundation’s latest ‘joinedupdesign for schools’ project.

Sally and Hadas hosted, with presentations intended to help the 11- to 14-year-olds understand exactly what goes on in an architect’s office and all the processes that have to go towards designing a building. A tour of the office inspired much interest in the architectural models and plans, as well as some key questions.

One student asked Sally: ‘Once a building is finished, do you ever look at it and think you don’t like it as much?’ To which Sally replied: ‘Yes, that does happen. There are always aspects you could have done better and it’s really good for architects to go back to buildings a lot and talk to people and find out if they have gone wrong.’

A good response, for students who are being taught to differentiate between good and bad design, and the importance of the user’s experience – theirs as much as anyone else’s – in that judgement. Workshops on briefing, branding and identity followed, with a tour of the Rich Mix building in the afternoon. The exposed pipework in the ceiling of the ground floor provoked some debate. Although Sally explained the benefits of this approach for lifting what would have been a very low ceiling, opinions were divided.

In the follow up session at the Sorrell Foundation HQ, Somerset House, student Tristan Gregory summarised: ‘Buildings have different kinds of personalities and attract different types of people. Some people might not like seeing all the pipes, but I think it’s cool.’

Veronica Simpson is following the Sorrell Foundation ‘joinedupdesign’ project as a dissertation focus for her MSc in Environmental Psychology. She says, ‘it’s a fascinating insight into how design and architecture is experienced by young people, and how it can be used as an educational tool to foster a broader understanding of the world around them.’