Cambridge LaunchPad inspires young minds

The Railpen project teams for Devonshire Gardens and Botanic Place recently held two Cambridge Launchpad workshops to engage local students with the upcoming developments.

The first was held in partnership with LDA Design and RHP, as the project team visited students at Ridgefield Primary School in Cambridge. Professionals working on the brand-new Devonshire Gardens development talked to the group of Year 5 students about careers within property development including architecture, project management, and landscape architecture.

The students began with a practical exercise, examining their school courtyard and describing what they liked about it and what they would change. This gave them an idea of how a landscape architect might look at an outdoor space. They were then all given a bird’s-eye view plan of the Devonshire Gardens site and asked to fill it in with their ideas of what should be on the site, including accommodation, office space, shops, playgrounds, and whatever else they thought the space needed.

Anna Boldina, Senior Architectural Designer at R H Partnership Architects, says: “It was great to have an active day with children. I hope many of them may become landscape architects, scientists, or architects. It’s great to give children more ideas of what they could be doing, and it’s fun to step in and tell them about our exciting jobs.”


The second workshop was held with Socius, Hoare Lea, AKT II, Allford Hall Monahan Morris, Bioregional and Skanska, and was aimed at inspiring students from Cottenham Village College to apply the skills they’ve been learning in the classroom to real-world development projects.

Hosted at the offices of our project partner Mills & Reeve, which offered students a brilliant view of the Botanic Place site from the window, the project team explained more about our roles and presented our plans for the project. Working with the students, they explored the importance of sustainable design and engineering, and the disciplines required to construct environmentally conscious buildings.

A high-energy ‘speed interview’ session gave the students a unique opportunity to interrogate each of our roles within the project, so that they could fully understand the jobs that we do and find out more about the different routes into our careers. Then, using everyone’s favourite building brick, Lego, the students designed and built their own sustainable spaces, from gyms and cafeterias to outdoor spaces and science labs.

Rob Jones, Senior Engineer at AKT II says: “It was great to show the students how they can apply the skills they’re learning now to real-word problems and what that means for the future of construction and buildings.”

Katrina Lamberton, Senior Project Manager at Socius says: “I’ve had a fantastic day working with all the young adults here. I think the most exciting thing was the breadth of ideas that they had. They seem able to tap into a set of ideas, that as an older person it doesn’t really come that easy to me, but I really enjoyed their different thought processes and their different takes on the environment and how the building world meets with the natural world and what their future could look like. It’s really exciting!”

To view the Impact Statement for this event, please see here.

Find out more about our Devonshire Gardens project here.

Find out more about our Botanic Place project here.

Find out more about Cambridge LaunchPad and its movement to inspire young people into STEM careers here.