DIALOG Youth Architecture Camp – The Inaugural Year
Two things are not happening in Edmonton that put us at a disadvantage when designing our city. First, there’s very little—if any—exposure to architecture as a career for youth in grade school. Second, Edmonton lacks a post secondary institution with a school of architecture.
This means Edmonton is nurturing fewer designers and talented architects than other major cities in Canada, even though the rapidly-growing and open-minded city provides a great environment for creative professionals to thrive. More than simply recognizing this as an issue, we took matters into our own hands to benefit the city’s entire design community and make a meaningful difference in the lives of local high school students.
This spring, our Edmonton studio hosted 20 high school students for the inaugural Youth Architecture Camp. The pilot project was developed with INNOVATE at the Argyll Centre, with the goal of exposing youth to the world of architecture and design alongside industry experts from DIALOG.
“In Edmonton, students aren’t exposed to architecture as a career like they would be if they lived in a city with a school of architecture. Our city is losing out on future design talent. Right now, the few students that know about architecture have to go away to study it, and they may not return to design careers in our city. It’s a long game—but planting seeds in young minds now can inspire them to study design and come back to our city to make it even better.”
–David James, Architect and Youth Architecture Camp Lead, DIALOG
During the 4-day program, students gained an understanding of space, learned architectural drawing techniques, explored sustainable design and beauty in architecture, and worked with experts to identify and solve a design problem. Practicing architects and design professionals supported hands-on design exercises, toured behind-the-scenes at the new Royal Alberta Museum, and shared personal stories of their unique career paths. Students received up to 6 high school credits for their participation.
“My favourite part was the tour of the museum with the architect. She took us behind the scenes, and explained what was going on through the design process. It was really cool. It was an experience I’d never get in my entire life.”
“I learned that architecture is really dependent on a lot of different fields. The architect works together with a team and consults with many different people. It’s really social. I didn’t know about that at first.”
It was a pilot program that DIALOG hopes to continue on an annual basis. Students were inspired by their week of design immersion, and DIALOG is interested in expanding this program to include participation from other firms in the city.
The more we, as a community of city builders, can foster design talent, the better we all will be in the long run. And this is just the start.
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