An educational initiative introduced in 1999 by the Sheffield School of Architecture, Live Projects are a pioneering collaboration between masters architecture students and local community groups, charities, health organisations and regional authorities. Urban Education Live team members from Sheffield and Bucharest were actively involved in Live Projects 2017, exploring and strengthening the innovative collaboration between local communities and the University.
Live Projects include a wide array of activities: design, building, masterplanning, feasibility studies, sustainability strategies, online resources and participation toolkits. These projects are real, happening in real time with real clients, setting real constraints, responding to a limited budget, brief and time. Through regular contact, students and clients work together to define a brief and develop useful design solutions – whether they are a physical structure, a set of drawings, a toolkit, an exhibition or a website.
The ‘live’ element of these projects plays a vital role in the process of educating architects of the future. Too often architectural education happens in the abstract realm and pursues a set of ideals that are often removed from the concerns of the everyday world. In contrast, the Live Projects develop collaborative techniques and skills in communication and participatory practice, and at the same time explore innovative ways of collaboration between the University and communities.
Strengthening our international collaboration within the international Urban Education Live consortium, Sheffield team was accompanied by Daniela Calciu from Bucharest team Urboteca during the 6-week process of Live Projects. Daniela worked together with Carolyn Butterworth, Tatjana Schneider and Leo Care on mentoring Live Project collaborations with various local clients/stakeholders: The Umbrella Factory — collaboration with Theatre Deli Sheffield, The Sheffield Housing Conversations — working with South Yorkshire Housing Association, and Moorfoot Link — with The Labour Party Planning Policy. Final outcomes of the collaborations between students and local stakeholder/client groups were presented and celebrated in a final event in November 2017.
Urban Education Live builds on the long-term collaboration between the School of Architecture and Sheffield through many years of innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and research. This is most recently manifested in the School’s Live Works initiative, led by Carolyn Butterworth, which allows local people and organisations to learn about our civic engagement activities, suggest and collaborate with us on projects. Live Works initiative is also closely connected to the Urban Education Live research work, focusing on exploring local issues at a national and international level. Sheffield School of Architecture students and graduates can continue to work with Live Project clients and local stakeholders through the Live Works project office, situated in Sheffield city centre.