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(Un)Building is a programme for 13- to 16-year olds developed by the LSA in collaboration with the RIBA and LIFT (Leading Inclusive Futures Through Technology) as part of the National Saturday Club programme.

(UN)BUILDING 2023/24
(UN)BUILDING 2022/23


The (Un)Building 2023-24 curriculum centres on collaboration and project-oriented learning, with a focus on ecology and site-specific design. Working in groups, students are challenged to design and improve the existing ‘Cumberland Square Garden’, adjacent to the LSA’s new home in Dalston.

Working with a wide range of experts within the built environment and local communities, students are encouraged to look to find inspiration in the site’s context, their own experiences as well as cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations. This course hopes to inspire young people to explore and develop resilient forms of space-making.

The course is being delivered in six workshop clusters: confidence building; understanding the site; design; presentation; construction; and documentation.


The first workshop cluster – Confidence building – includes the first three workshops of the course:

Workshop 1: Introduction and National Saturday Club Self-Portrait with RIBA Education, during which students were introduced to the LSA and the RIBA and set their first design task of the course – to create a physical model of an outdoor space they enjoy. Students were encouraged to draw on their lived experience and were then challenged to present themselves and their models to their course-mates.

Workshop 2: Setting the Scene: Introduction to Biodiversity with Treework Environmental Practice. Luke Fay from Tree Work taught students about the value that trees add to the environment and then led the cohort as they surveyed trees on their live-project site, showing them ways to protect these trees once the students start developing design proposals later in the course.

Workshop 3: Urban Foraging with Izzy Johns, through Clissold Park. Students were shown a range of mushrooms and even ate nettles and Strawberry Tree fruit. The tour highlighted the way public green space can help support a range of flora and fauna in urban environments. We then finished the workshop by visiting STORE Projects in Stoke Newington, introducing students to STORE’s amazing after-school workshops!

These workshops introduced issues around sustainable design and the importance of supporting biodiversity – particularly in urban areas. Students were also introduced to fundamental soft-skills for designers such as working collaboratively and public speaking.

These workshops were supported by LSA students and alumni volunteers Ashita Roongra, Jessica Kendall and Judit Korpai.


Workshop cluster number 2 – Understanding the Site – introduced students to their live-project site, a raised planter along Beechwood Road, next to the LSA’s new home in Dalston.

Workshop 4: Spending time on-site, with Drawing Matter, led by Benjamin Machin and Matthew Page, drew inspiration from a Peter Wilson sketchbook (BOLLES+WILSON). Students were guided to sketch routes through the context of their site individually and then create a shared drawing of their route.

  • Studying the Soil with Lyson Marchessault

Workshop 5: Studying the Soil with Lyson Marchessault, revealed to students the value of good quality soil when working with the environment and highlighted the current challenges we have to maintain healthy soil. Students took soil samples from their project site to test the pH levels, as well as how much Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potasium the soil contained.

Workshop 6: Researching flora pt.1 with Sabina Tomalik was the first of a two-part workshop that introduces students to working with flora. The first workshop supported students as they investigated the existing planting on site. Students then selected one of these plants to then research and present at the end of the workshop.

These workshops were supported by LSA student Daniel Stone and LSA alumni and Hawkins\Brown employee Fabio Maiolin


Workshop cluster 3 – Design – supported students as they use their new skills and knowledge to develop proposals for their live-project site.

Workshop 7: During Researching Flora pt.2 with Sabina Tomalik, students selected plants that they would like to see in the public realm that will make the urban environment a more pleasant place to be. Students have chosen vegetables that can be picked by passers-by, as well as plants with strong smells that might improve a commute to and from the nearby Dalston Junction station. At the end of the workshop, Sabina worked with the cohort to produce a shared landscape plan that will form an integral part of the cohort’s final design!

  • An introduction from Liza Fior of muf architecture to the nearby Dalston Eastern Curve Garden as a successful example of public space in Dalston

Workshop 8: Defining the project brief with Liza Fior of muf architecture introduced students to the nearby Dalston Eastern Curve Garden as a successful example of public space in Dalston, they heard about how nearby communities are encouraged to use the space. Students were then asked to develop a shared project brief for the project’s architectural interventions.

Workshop 9: Once the students had agreed a shared brief as a cohort, they then began working in groups to develop design proposals that will be presented to residents of the nearby Rhodes Estate and to members of the LSA. This process began with agreeing concept designs within their groups.

Workshop 10 – 13: During these workshops, students were supported to develop their proposed designs and to create 1:50 physical models and orthographic drawings for presenting to local stakeholders. During this process, students have learnt some of the fundamental skills required by designers to develop and present their design ideas.

These workshops were supported by volunteers from the LSA’s Practice Network member, acme as well as Andrew Kwok and LSA student Jasmin Yeo.


Workshop cluster 4 prepared students for presenting their designs to local residents and members of the LSA.

Workshop 14: students were shown the value of presenting thorugh narrative and techniques for bringing together all of their course work and framing it in a way that allows them to convincingly and confidently present their proposals.

  • East Elevation

Workshop 15: students presented to local stakeholders using their physical models, orthographic drawings and sketches of the site and their proposal. Their presentations covered their understanding of Dalston, the site and how this shaped their design proposals. All designs were well received and the cohort will soon be working together to construct the final proposal!

Students were supported by volunteers from LSA Practice Network members DSDHA and TP Bennett, LB Waltham Forest Placemaker Giorgia Scognamiglio and LSA student Gerardo Estrada Alonso.


In Spring 2023 we ran the pilot programme of (Un)Building as a free 20-week course for young people in Hackney and Islington from underrepresented communities in architecture. It was delivered on Saturday afternoons (2pm to 5pm) from the 7 January to the 27 May 2023 at the LSA in Haggerston and other locations across the city.

(Un)Building introduced foundational climate literacy and presents the practice of spatial design and city-making as a collective endeavour. Alongside introducing a wide range of experts, the cohort undertook a design and build brief, engaging with local community groups to help shape their final proposal which will was realised in late Spring 2023.

The programme explored new ways of designing with sustainability in mind, considering how spaces can be built, unbuilt and adapted to allow for new uses in an age of Climate Emergency and was delivered across three stages:

  • Skill-building
  • Live project
  • Documentation

Our course studied exemplary local retro-fit projects, re-introducing the built environment as a rich source of inspiration, explore the possibilities of working with natural materials and the opportunities that spatial designers have to positively influence their surroundings.

Through emphasising craft and making, critical engagement with context and environment, and collaborative practice, the course inspired young people to explore and develop relevant and resilient forms of space-making.

To learn more about the 2023 programme, ready more below. To find out more about our 2024 Saturday Club, and to get involved, email and


  • AHMM Masterclass creating Mini Me versions of themselves in 1:10 scale and designing houses for different climates. Photo credit: Magnus Andersson
  • AHMM Masterclass. Photo credit: Magnus Andersson
  • Introduction to foundational climate literacy by ACAN and Extinction Rebellion.
  • RIBA building tour led by LSA Head of School Neal Shasore
  • Local building tour
  • RIBA skill up workshop - drawing skills
  • Introduction to engineering principles workshop

Over the course of the 20 week programme our (Un)Building cohort took part in a range of workshops and talks to help them build essential skills to help them in their future careers. These workshops exposed the cohort to a range of practioners from across the built environment, allowing them to learn about the breadth of the field. The skill-building workshops were as follows:

  • Workshop 1: National Saturday Club self-portrait project – model making and presentation skills
  • Workshop 2: Introduction to foundational climate literacy by ACAN and Extinction Rebellion – Collective drawing and debate skills
  • Workshop 3: RIBA Building tour, “Long Life Low Energy” exhibition, RIBA skill up workshop – drawing skills
  • Workshop 4: Mini-me workshop hosted by AHMM – model making skills Workshop 5: Local building tour – Introduction to retro-fit and sustainable design – sketching skills
  • Workshop 6 (first half): Presentations on different forms of agency
  • Workshop 13: Introduction to circular design with Re-fabricate – model making skills
  • Workshop 14: Introduction to engineering principles – model making skills


  • Introduction to community engagement
  • Constructing the final project
  • Model making workshop
  • Constructing the final project
  • Model making workshop
  • Constructing the final project
  • Constructing the final project
  • Constructing the final project
  • Constructing the final project

The final outcome of the National Saturday Programme was to create a temporary structure, that was designed and made by the young people taking part in the programme. To the end, the course provided workshops to support the live project, introducing the cohort to a range of stakeholders and skills.

  • Workshop 6(second half): Introduction to project brief, initial site visit
  • Workshop 7: Introduction to community engagement
  • Worshop 8: Hearing from the Hoxton Trust (client) / initial concept sketching Workshop 9 /10: Model making
  • Workshop 11: Scale drawing
  • Workshop 12: Presentation to the Hoxton Trust


  • LSA National Saturday Club. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2023
  • LSA National Saturday Club. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2023
  • Introduction to Architectural Photography Workshop. Photography by Jim Stephenson.
  • Introduction to Architectural Photography Workshop. Photography by Jim Stephenson.

Throughout the programme, the young people were also taught about the importance of documentation. This included a workshop from the photographer Jim Stephenson about architectural photography. The young people, course leaders and workshop providers also created a final output of a Zine, summarising and reviewing the programme. This will be available to view shortly.


The National Saturday Club offers young people a unique opportunity to explore subjects they love for free, to discover new talents, meet new people, and explore future study and career possibilities. In addition, Club members will participate in National Saturday Club Masterclasses with leading industry professionals, the Summer Show where Saturday Clubs nationwide exhibit their work in a public exhibition, and a Graduation Ceremony for Club members to celebrate their achievements.

Learn more about the NSC here.