Hopes ‘unique’ Dundee design event for schools could go nationwide

© DC ThomsonMSP John Swinney speaks to pupils Sven Thomson, Jack Smith, Amy Kelly and Fern Semple from Anderson High School.
MSP John Swinney speaks to pupils Sven Thomson, Jack Smith, Amy Kelly and Fern Semple from Anderson High School.

The organiser of a “unique” design event for schoolchildren held in Dundee on Wednesday believes it should be rolled out across the country.

Creative Spaces, held for the 16th year at D&A College’s Kingsway Campus, saw teams of S2 pupils design buildings and make scale models of their creations.

For the first time, two schools from outside Tayside and Fife were invited.

© DC Thomson
MSP John Swinney receives a T-Shirt from Doug Finney.

In a herculean effort, pupils from Anderson High School in Lerwick, Shetland travelled 14 hours by ferry to the mainland to take part — after help from the William S. Phillips Fund.

The event is the brainchild of Doug Binnie, who is keen to hold discussions on its expansion.

Mr Binnie said: “This is definitely unique in Scotland and maybe in the whole of the UK.

“It would be great if this was rolled out across Scotland. I said that to John Swinney when he visited.

“The skills it provides are amazing.

“Even if a pupil doesn’t have aspirations to be an architect, it still helps in areas such as confidence, team work, and problem solving.”

The event adds to Dundee’s culture and history of design, which varies from the construction of the RRS Discovery in the city in 1900 to the waterfront’s £80.1 million V&A museum, opened last year.

29 teams were involved on Wednesday with the winning school landing £600.

Prizes were also on offer for the school kids themselves.

Each school had to build and design a model of an eco-friendly shed prior to the event.

They were then given five hours in the college’s The Space building yesterday to “develop and creatively transform” the large redundant site behind Groucho’s in Dundee City Centre.

The designs had to support an Ecotherapy City Garden with a Horticultural Learning Facility.

Mr Binnie added: “It teaches them something they don’t usually get in the classroom.

“They get loads out of it. They are thrust into an environment that’s unusual to them and they thrive.

“The amount of energy and concentration on show is incredible.

“I’d like to get a child behaviour analyst in and get them to explain just what it is about this that gets them to work so well.

“One of the best things about it is that there are no computers involved. It’s all about talking and working together.”

Mr Binnie founded the competition while working at the city’s Nicol Russell Studios in 2002 and now runs the event voluntarily.