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Working with Kingston University students to boost community engagement in a pilot urban room

Kingston School of Art students in pilot urban room

Architecture students from Kingston School of Art have teamed up with Kingston Council to create a new conversation space for communities to share their views on the borough’s future.

A pilot urban room has been installed in the Market House, in the centre of Kingston’s Market Place, creating a focal point for people to come together and discuss proposals for the borough.

Called Open Frame, the teal-coloured scaffold-based structure, designed by the students, serves as an inviting and adaptable multiple-purpose space to host events and showcase information. It has recently been used to support the Council’s consultation on the first draft of the new Local Plan and is now being used to seek people’s views on the vision for the Kingston town centre area. The pilot urban room will also play host to a number of other projects and discussions in the coming months.

The space is the result of a joint project also involving the Kingston Society, the North Kingston Neighbourhood Forum, Chessington District Residents' Association and New Malden Residents’ Association.

The brief to design the space formed part of an annual live brief run by the University’s Architecture Department. Proposals from 21 student teams were whittled down to three finalists, whose ideas were combined for the final design.

Course leader for the Master of Architecture programme Aoife Donnelly, said:

“Urban rooms are a great way to boost community participation, with the ambition of encouraging citizens to take a more active role in the future of their built environment."

First year Master of Architecture student Emily Walker, who was part of the Kingston School of Art team involved in the design, lay out and construction of the urban room, said:

“Projects like this add richness to our study at university. It’s not often we have the opportunity to challenge ourselves with this type of experience while completing a degree.


“Working with Kingston Council, alumni from the architecture course and across disciplines has been an exciting collaboration and I have learned so much from the experience.”

Cllr Roger Hayes, Kingston Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning Policy and Community Engagement, said:

“Kingston’s urban room has created an accessible space for conversation that has enabled many more people to participate in discussions about the future of the borough. By involving students from Kingston School of Art, we have been able to curate an interesting and intriguing space, drawing people in and encouraging them to engage with the draft Local Plan and other important projects.


“We look forward to giving students more experiences to work on real-life projects and have opportunities to understand more about their needs and aspirations, not only as a student but as a future resident or worker long after their studies conclude.”

Published: 7th March 2023