Budding Cambridgeshire designers get to learn from award-winning team

17 May 2023

Four budding designers have been given a priceless insight into the workings of a leading architects thanks to a scheme run by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Last year, the local authority signed an agreement with Jan Kattein Architects to develop and install state-of-the-art community spaces at Cambridge Central and March libraries as part of the EverySpace project.

And as part of the deal, the firm agreed to allow young people aged 16-18 selected to take part in a mentorship scheme the chance to gain valuable insight into the professional design industry and accrue experience towards a potential future career.

Due to the strong field of candidates, rather than recruiting two design mentees as originally stated, the council recruited four people who – on top of being able to help redesign both libraries - were given the chance to spend a day at the Jan Kattein Architects’ London based studio and participate in design work, led by an award-winning team.

The youngsters attended on two separate dates in February where they met with designers and visited the company’s Paper Garden development in London.

Reflecting on the invaluable experience, mentee Alex Durrant said: “I really enjoyed the day out in London as it not only gave me an insight into what a career in architecture is like, but it also gave me independence through travelling individually and navigating through parts of London.

“I found it really interesting to be immersed into one of Jan Kattein’s meetings as it really demonstrated each part of the design process.”

Another, Daisy King, added: “I am very grateful that I had such a valuable time with JKA and being surrounded by people who specialise in this architectural industry as it gave me a taste of what it could be like if I were to pursue being an architect, whilst also having a really fun day.”

Sadie Cowan said: “I wanted to learn about all aspects of the job - the good and the bad - and learn the processes the architects have gone through relating to the EverySpace Project. I did all of this and more.”

While Remi Karim also found the experience invaluable, in particular taking on a design challenge and hearing about the latest updates of the EverySpace Project. “Although I have seen the information before it really helped to understand it having the architects who designed it explain and give the motives behind specific aspects,” she said.

More information on the project can be found at: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/libraries-leisure-culture/libraries/news-and-events/library-news/everyspace-project

Cllr Tom Sanderson, chair of the council’s Communities, Social Mobility and Inclusion committee, said: “It’s wonderful to hear just how much fun the youngsters gained from their time in London and how much information they picked up.

“The EverySpace Project is progressing at a good pace and we will be selecting our furniture for both libraries shortly as we continue to make them an even more welcoming and comforting space for people to visit.”

Robert Baron, architectural designer at Jan Kattein Architects, said: "We were thrilled to have the opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise with the four talented mentees. It was inspiring to see their passion and enthusiasm for architecture explored through in their design tasks and during our site visits. We are proud to have played a small part in their development as young designers."