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Image of a girl at the Summer School

Journal 3 September 2019

The Prince's Foundation Summer School

This year’s Prince’s Foundation Summer School equipped a fresh intake of students with vital skills in building crafts and architecture

When it comes to mastering new skills, the classroom alone doesn’t always cut it, which is why The Prince’s Foundation’s Summer School has become such a sought-after programme for the nation’s next generation of architects, designers and builders. The perfect pairing of academic insight and practical experience, the three-week programme started in earnest this July, giving participants the chance to develop their knowledge of traditional architecture, design, building and repair techniques. Splitting their time between The Prince’s Foundation’s home in Shoreditch, London, and their headquarters on the Dumfries House Estate in Scotland, students are quickly encouraged to put their newly learnt skills into practice.

Image of a boy at the Summer School
Fintan Morrison participates in stone carving

“The Summer School has an emphasis on learning by doing and is packed with workshops and activities that enable students to engage with the task at hand,” says the Prince’s Foundation’s Built Environment Education Manager Michael Goodger. “It’s an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in three weeks of intensive activity and learning, with the aim of gaining a greater understanding of the holistic nature of our built environment and their role within it.”

Image of a woman at the Summer School
Showcasing finished stained glass

This holistic approach is apparent from the Summer School’s diverse structure. During the first week, activities such as life drawing and geometry provide students with the tools to record and communicate their ideas, developing a language that enables them to engage with the world around them. In week two the focus switches to traditional craft with students trying their hand at stone carving, timber framing, stained glasswork and thatching. The final design week sees students tasked with responding to a real design brief – an opportunity to demonstrate and develop their creative flair but also providing a lesson in how to compromise and respond to the demands of a real-life client.

Milessa Cooper will continue onto The Prince’s Foundation Building Craft Programme following the Summer School and – having previously worked across several creative fields, including carpentry, metalwork and woodwork – attended the summer school to up her existing skill set. “I was really looking forward to getting involved and having the opportunity to do some more drawing and design work, while looking at how it relates to the building world,” she says. “It was inspiring to see how people present and discuss their work and how they engage with the design process – I got a lot out of it and it was great to get the creative juices flowing again.”

Image of Milessa Cooper sketching
Milessa Cooper sketching

Some travelled significant distances to tap into the Summer School’s resources. Alina Velasco Toral is an 18-year-old architecture student from Mexico with high hopes for the future after graduation. “Hopefully, I will be able to use these skills later on as I advance in my career as an architect. The Summer School gives me the opportunity to experience the culture of a new country while learning about British architecture first hand.”

Image of Alina Velasco Toral sketching
Student Alina Velasco Toral

As this year’s programme draws to a close, Goodger adds that its benefits will set students up well for life after graduation. “While it is certainly not the intention that students become a master craftsman in a day, the hands-on nature of these activities, paired with in-depth knowledge from experienced tutors provides students with an appreciation and feel for the level of skill required to work with these materials, developing a language that enables them to communicate across the sector.”

The Prince’s Foundation’s Education Programmes are supported by a consortium of donors and sponsors.

Words: Ben Olsen

Images: Iain Brown & Richard Ivey

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