Back to Blog

TAP Internship Journey: Sam’s reflection on their time at The Glass-House

Posted on 23 August 2023

Written by:

Guest Author

Hello! I’m Sam, I’m a History student going into my 3rd year at the University of Sheffield. I was brought together with The Glass-House Community Led Design through the Transforming and Activating Places (TAP) programme. I worked together with another TAP student, Piotr. Through TAP, we had been given a thorough introduction to placemaking and its nuances in Sheffield. 

I am interested in working with children and using play as a learning tool. I was curious to learn how play could be used in placemaking and what it means to young people. I also looked forward to stepping outside of the academic bubble at university, and working with the ideas that we had learnt in practice.

However, I was totally new to design and felt nervous to start working with a charity that has design at its heart. Looking back now I’m at the end of my internship – I think this was a good thing! Much like the children taking part in The State of Play workshop that we delivered, I was also starting from scratch. While I felt daunted to take on a project that I initially felt unfamiliar with, I think it turned out to be an asset when thinking about what to include in the Explore Design presentation that I co-designed with Piotr. This is because it helped me to break down topics and explain things to beginners, since I had been in the same shoes! I was happy to see some of the elements that Piotr and I spoke about in the morning appear in the children’s afternoon projects when they presented their designs.

Sam presenting the exploration of playable landscapes with Piotr and one of the young participants sharing what they created in the team build

One of our aims in delivering The State of Play workshop was to give the young participants the vocabulary and confidence to articulate their design opinions. I think I also feel this way having worked at the Glass-House for a summer! I was brought to the Glass-House through my interest in working with children and was intrigued by the idea of using play for learning. During The State of Play workshop, I was struck by how play worked as a ‘leveller’ and brought the children and their parents onto equal footing. Cultivating this environment meant that talking about the design of play spaces made each participant’s voice feel valued, no matter their age. We used play spaces in our presentation as a starting point to explore design concepts and placemaking. Reflecting back on my summer, I was pleasantly surprised to notice just how full my camera roll was of play spaces that I’ve spotted in my area. I have found myself thinking about spaces and playing in new ways, and I’ve noticed that I’m thinking more actively about the spaces that I’m in. I was excited to hopefully pass along this same feeling to the workshop participants through Piotr and my presentation.

I was touched by The Glass-House’s emphasis on co-design and co-facilitation. Whilst at  times it has been challenging to negotiate differences of opinion and ideas,  this summer I’ve come to fully appreciate how the end result is much richer, taking on a unique and well-developed shape, for having been a product of co-design and teamwork. It was really satisfying to see all our hard work behind the scenes come together in The State of Play workshop. 

A screen capture of the presentation Sam and Piotr delivered at The State of Play Workshop

I was really glad to have taken part in the Co-Creating a Collaborative City workshop early on in the internship, before delivering one ourselves. I hadn’t participated in a workshop environment before and I was struck by what a skill it was to hold the space and all the different voices that share it. I feel like I learnt a lot about facilitating conversations with young people throughout my time at The Glass-House this summer. I was particularly struck by the way that The Glass-House team contributed to the presentation from Karakusevic Carson Architects. They broke down complicated architectural ideas and translated them so they were easily understandable for the children. I was struck by the balance between being gentle and kindly explaining things, without talking down to the children. I appreciated the feedback that Piotr and I received from the team when drafting our presentation. It helped me to appreciate the dynamic in the room and deliver the presentation in a tone that was thorough but in simple language to suit the age of our listeners. 

Sam’s contribution to the Co-creating Collaborative City Workshop

I’m excited to see where the skills that I’ve learnt this summer will take me! I would like to take the chance to say thank you to Jake for being such a great leader over the past months; and to Louise, Elly and Sophia for all their help.