Beaufort College Navan – Youth Cafe Project
Posted by admin, February 13, 2018

Design Team:
Kyle Caldwell, Daniel Smith, Wiktoria Borsuk, Armands Tautkevics, Ann Margaret Hand, Colm Flood, Gerry Nevin, Matthew Keane, Matthew Gibney, Conor Joyce, Cody Creighton, Tudor Safta, Luke Carrig

Group Leaders:
Jenny D’Arcy and Mary Kate Murphy

Beaufort Design Team with architect Evelyn D’Arcy

Beaufort Design Team with architect Evelyn D’Arcy

Beaufort Young Architects have been appointed for a very important project: the design of a new Youth Café at their school! The work is scheduled to take place over the summer and will be ready for the new school term in September. The Youth Café is a busy place and extremely important to the students at Beaufort – accommodating a breakfast club, various lunchtime groups, an after-school homework club, as well as being used throughout the day for school council meetings and tutor groups. The room could see 150 students passing through it over the course of a day! It is currently located in a tiny space but, with a new school extension almost complete, a much larger room has become available and is a blank canvas for Beaufort Young Architects to transform into a brand-new fit-for-purpose student-centred space.
With all this in mind (no pressure!) the team – made up of student representatives from all years in the school – rolled up their sleeves and got straight to work. Over the course of four half day workshops the team carried out a number of space studies, researched lots of different aspects of design of schools, youth centres and other spaces for young people, and began to put together ideas for what the new youth café should look like. The room which will become the youth café is currently used as a library, so we based ourselves there for the duration of the workshops.
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Workshop 1: Investigate
Starting any project can be a daunting prospect, so in the first workshop the team started off by talking about a few different buildings they had visited or knew of, to gain some inspiration and share ideas as to what “architecture” really means. Then each person made a short study of a space he/she knew well, and talked about what it looked like, what made it special etc.
Every project starts with a survey – as it’s important to learn as much as you can about the existing space, before being able to decide on a new design – so we researched some of the ways architects measure and record spaces. To start with we made diagrammatic sketches of the room, indicating aspects of its form such as where the light came from, cool/warm spots, materials, colour, furniture and finally some ideas about how a typical student would move around the space and the feelings it evoked – be they feelings of boredom, stress, tiredeness, calm, etc.
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Having studied the space in this way, it was easy to use the same method to carry out a quick study of different areas in the school – returning then to the workshop space to draw a giant freehand plan of the school from memory. This exercise prompted a lively discussion as to how each space related to each other and how they all connected together!
Some of the students study technical graphics and explained to the group how to draw at scale. Evelyn showed some examples of drawings of her own projects too. She also gave a few tips on using your height, shoe size and stride length to measure a space without any measuring equipment! She also told us how we could count the standard block sizes to measure heights, window sizes and so on. We finished the workshop by making a list of observations on the floor plan, to show favourite rooms, and mark the journey every student makes throughout the course of the day.

Gerry, Ann-Margaret, Armands and Kyle

Gerry, Ann-Margaret, Armands and Kyle

Workshop 2: Design Idea

Having studied the library in its existing form in detail, in the second workshop we started thinking about how it might be reimagined as the new youth café. It is in a great location in the school, with a wide corridor outside, and south facing windows which look on to a courtyard. A great place to start looking at the changes we could make to suit its new use. The team broke into smaller groups and did some brainstorming to map out what the new space could look like, what it would be used for, who would be using it, what might set it apart from other spaces within the school, and so on.
The team then did some internet research to find some examples of the items on the mind maps, and looked at school designs, as well as offices such as Google and Air B’n’B which are so much more than just work spaces, using materials like astroturf, bright paints, colourful furniture and so on. We spread all the images and mind maps out on the floor and talked as a group about the common ideas that were beginning to emerge.
Common themes that came up were: a break from routine, a sense of belonging, comfort, ownership, freedom, peace, inclusiveness, escape. All of which are key aspects of a dedicated student space within an extremely busy school environment!

Idea Formation!

Idea Formation!

Workshop 3: 3D Models
In order to transform the ideas from the Workshop 3 brainstorming session into a design, we looked at model making as a useful presentation form. Making a model can seem a bit tricky to the beginner, so to get used to the procedure we first did some quick practice models made out of newspaper. The team quickly got to grips with the glue sticks and masking tape!The team were then confident in their skills, and using the 2D measured survey drawings from Workshop 1 as templates, worked in pairs and threes to make 1:50 scale models of the existing room, and the courtyard area adjacent in order to explore a new connection between both spaces.

 

Wiktoria, Tudor, Daniel, Gerry, Luke, Ann-Margaret and Armands with Navan School Completion Officer Jenny D’Arcy

Wiktoria, Tudor, Daniel, Gerry, Luke, Ann-Margaret and Armands with Navan School Completion Officer Jenny D’Arcy

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Tudor, Daniel and Wiktoria with their 3D model

Tudor, Daniel and Wiktoria with their 3D model

 

Workshop 4: Present and Discuss

The focus of our final workshop was to create a mood board of ideas for the Youth Café. This week each student worked individually, which meant they could put their own personal stamp on the design. The local paint shop donated dozens of sample paint pots, and a giant pile of materials, paper, recycled materials along with furniture brochures and design magazines provided plenty of scope for translating the group’s ideas into real form.
Every student then presented their ideas to the group and the mood boards are currently on display in the existing Youth Café. The group will make a presentation to the staff and sponsors and – all going to plan – work on the new café will begin in the summer holidays. Watch this space!

Matthew Keane

Matthew Keane

 

Cody Creighton

Cody Creighton

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Get In Touch
For more information contact: education@architecturefoundation.ie

Irish Architecture Foundation
15 Bachelors Walk
Dublin 1

+353 1 874 7205
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