During the summer of 2023 Sam and Piotr joined The Glass-House team as student interns from The University of Sheffield’s Transforming and Activating Places (TAP) programme to iterate ‘The State of Play’ workshop further, including collaborating with Karakusevic Carson Architects (KCA) to deliver the workshop, as well as helping us explore its potential use with a Sheffield-based primary school network.
Project date: June – August 2023
Another year, another collaborative work programme
We were pleased to invite students from the TAP programme back into our work in 2023, as we valued the reciprocity of learning, sharing and fresh interjection of new ideas they had brought to The Glass-House the previous year (explore the 2022 TAP programme here).
Like last year, we were keen to develop a clear focus for our interns and use this space to further develop and iterate our own approaches and methodologies. Building on previous work of The Glass-House and work of the interns last year, we invited our new TAP interns Sam and Piotr to help further shape the gaming workshop model and in particular The State of Play, which introduces both parents and their children to design and placemaking.
When inviting interns to join us for the summer it is important for The Glass-House to continually embed a collaborative methodology into the overall programme of work. The 2023 summer internship was no different, inviting our interns to work in a variety of ways, combining individual and collaborative tasks, working together in person and remotely.
We invited different members of The Glass-House team in at different points of the internship programme, drawing on their strengths and experience to shape and nurture different stages of the programme, to invite new approaches, challenges and insights as collaborators and critical friends to help shape the work Sam and Piotr were producing.
We began our collaboration by introducing Sam and Piotr to The Glass-House tools, values and methodology in addition to the background of the gaming workshop model.
The challenge we set for Sam and Piotr was to help us explore and develop how we might move this approach forward to support ways in which the model could be used with different audiences and users. Our ultimate goal is not to be long-term providers of this workshop, but instead to allow and enable others to take the gaming workshop model and deliver it on their own terms.
With this in mind, we moved between big picture ideation and more focused research to contemplate how old and new aspects of the gaming workshop model could be nuanced for different scenarios.
Through this we identified four key innovations we wanted to test and explore:
- Understanding the challenges and opportunities of working with schools, supporting them delivering the model and inviting children into a space of design enabling.
- Working with a design practice to embed the gaming workshop model within placemaking design professions.
- Inviting parents to co-design on Roblox Studio (which differed from State of Play workshop with NVM).
- Exploring how we can create a prototype resource that enables others to step into the Gaming Workshop and deliver an iteration of the model.
The State of Play Workshop with Karakusevic Carson Architects (KCA) and prototyping how others might use the workshop model
In order to test these various iterations, Sam and Piotr helped us consider how others might use the model to empower young people in design of place and placemaking within different spheres. To explore this further, we worked with a couple of primary schools in Sheffield, running a focus group session with a small group of teachers to explore how we could introduce the workshop model into schools.
This was also the first time we had tested delivering the gaming workshop at the premises of an architecture practice. This helped us introduce participants to real world applications of designing and building within a placemaking profession, exploring similarities between the gaming software and those used by professionals.
We returned to our partners Karacusevic Carson Architects, with whom we had collaborated on our gaming workshop at The Willows on Broadwater Primary School, within the context of neighbourhood regeneration. Through this new collaboration with KCA and the TAP programme, we were able to offer the workshop for free to local families. Using a variation of The State of Play workshop, we hosted a group of young children aged 9 – 11 and their accompanying parents and guardians at KCA’s office in central London.
The workshop was iterated with our two interns Sam and Piotr, who delivered a portion of the session exploring the design and diversity of landscapes we can play with, in and on, highlighting various considerations for the young people and parents to think about in their own design. We also invited the parents to design and build in Roblox Studio alongside their children by providing them with their own laptop. This differed from the previous State of Play workshop where only the children were given a laptop each.
Working with Karakusevic Carson Architects, we wanted to highlight and reflect the real-world applications of the skills that the children have already, and that they are gaining through the workshop. As part of the workshop, KCA introduced a typical design journey that architectural designers might take, from concept sketches to models and visual renders. Using examples of projects they had worked on, KCA spoke about the different design decisions they had made and why they had made them.
Our last stage of work with Sam and Piotr, after testing and reflecting on the workshop model with and for new contexts, was to explore how we could enable others to use the model, on their own terms, to empower and invite young people into the design of places and placemaking. We considered what a practical resource might include to support others delivering the gaming workshop model.
Impact for our 2023 TAP interns 2023
Much like the previous year, we aimed to create a space for our interns to develop their existing skills, nurture new ones and build their confidence in a workplace within a placemaking organisation. There were many facets to this particular programme which saw them capturing conversations, designing and leading interviews, delivering and facilitating workshops and designing resources.
Stepping into multiple roles, they gained a new appreciation for ways of holding conversations and supporting dialogue between different stakeholders, the importance of bringing design thinking into different spaces (professional and personal) and finding the balance and value of working with multiple voices in co-designing / working collaboratively.
Impact for The Glass-House in 2023
The support of a funding grant awarded to The Glass-House by the Transforming and Activating Places (TAP) Programme and the interjection of skills and knowledge from our interns has allowed us to continue to innovate the Gaming Workshop model, enabling us to test it in a new type of space over the summer and to start a conversation about how schools might take up, adapt and use the workshop.
We will continue to explore working with schools, thinking about how design can complement elements of the curriculum supported by Roblox Studio as a didactic tool, and introducing children to facilitation skills. With our partner KCA and other design practices, we will look at the benefits of the workshop for design (architectural) practices in enabling young children to recognise their skills and its application towards a professional context, as well as empower them as active participants in local placemaking initiatives.
The support of the TAP programme also allowed us to invite parents and guardians to co-design with their young people on their own laptops (which differed from workshop with NVM). This created a new dynamic between parents and the children, with the children taking on a different type of supportive role in helping their parents navigate the Roblox Studio tools at a technical level. This created a new approach to empowering children to not only take part, but also to help teach others new skills. This role was reinforced in this space as we did not have a young facilitator supporting us during the 2023 summer workshop.
Imagining the workshop model taken up by schools
The internship has created a much valued space to explore the potential of the workshop model in schools. Delivering a focus group session with primary school teachers has allowed us to contemplate how we might tailor elements of the workshop to engage and enable primary schools and their pupils to step into the gaming workshop model. It has highlighted both challenges and opportunities we may face as a charity in supporting them but has left us better placed to develop a supportive co-designed model.
Partnering with a design practice to deliver the workshop model
Working with KCA again but in a different context proved the flexibility of the model and its ability to fit into different environments and settings. Working with KCA provided an additional lens for the young participants and their parents to reimagine how Roblox Studio can be used as a didactic tool to support design thinking, making and doing and in this instance, within the context of architectural placemaking.
Innovations from our interns
The new element of the workshop that Sam and Piotr introduced into The State of Play workshop in 2023 has created a useful new resource for The Glass-House on designing for play. They carried our extensive research on different types of play environments, which we will be able to build into our work. Through working with us to consider what a gaming workshop resource might look like, they have injected some great ideas and design thinking that we will apply to our emerging prototype resource.
To read more about the internship and the iteration of the Gaming Workshop model please follow the links below:
Read about our approach to Empowering Children in Design through Gaming
2023 Summer Programme
- Read about the 2023 State of Play workshop hosted with Karakusevic Carson Architects on the blog here, and in the summary publication (coming soon)
- Our 2023 interns’ blogs about their experience working at The Glass-House. You can find Sam’s blog here, and Piotr’s blog here
2022 Summer Programme
- Read our blog introducing the TAP programme, Vince and Enrico and expanding on the internship here.
- Read the 2022 State of Play Workshop at The National Videogame Museum on the blog here, or in our summary publication here
- Our 2022 interns’ blogs about their experience working at The Glass-House. You can find Enrico’s blog here, and Vince’s blog here
- Read about the TAP symposium event here