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Work Like Experience - Nottingham Buddhist Centre

As part of the their Year 1 of study, Level 7 Architecture Apprenticeship students were invited to take part in a live project brief set by the Nottingham Buddhist Centre.

This project is part of NTU's commitment that all students will benefit from work-like experience opportunities embedded into their course, allowing them to engage directly with industry and develop essential professional skills, knowledge and attributes for future career success.

The project

Entitled Intervening in the City, our students were involved in presenting their developing designs to the representatives of the Buddhist centre. This allowed them to obtain first hand experience on receiving feedback for their proposals and apply it on further developing and taking their designs further. To make sure our students grasped the full essence of the task at hand, they visited the existing centre to ascertain what the issues were and to meet with the client (employer) to begin to set out what the proposed brief of the new building would be.

This then allowed the students to design a building which reflected the present and future needs of the centre, taken in context with how Nottingham will develop in the short to mid-term future.

To make sure the experience was as close to a 'real-life' scenario, the representatives of the centre were also present during the entire process. The students were always able to ask for their thoughts and feedback and the representatives were also present for their final presentations.

“We definitely felt we were able to help the students by providing a different kind of case study and it was very interesting for us to consider the way we use our current building, as well as our options for the future.”

- Nottingham Buddhist Centre Representative

Project development

The concept for the project was created by our academic, Anthony Dalby, over the summer of 2022.

The development of this project drew inspiration from a prior studio project called Vertical Studio I. This project was also designed around the designing of a Buddhist centre. It asked apprentices to research and analyse a series of case studies of spiritual communities from around the world, creating an opportunity for the apprentices to be exposed to World Architecture rather than being constrained to western Classical or Gothic precedents. These precedents also covered a number of different faiths: Buddhist, Islamic and Christian, and the apprentices were encouraged to explore the similarities of the typologies across the different faiths.

For this project, the initial discussions took place with the chair of the Buddhist centre. Once the initial discussions concluded, the Buddhist centre then consulted amongst themselves and appointed a coordinator to liaise with the Anthony. Between July and the beginning of the academic year, Anthony found the site in which the project could be developed in, and set out the structure of the module.

Anthony was also in charge of Vertical Studio I, making the alignment of the module to the Work Life Experience (WLE) easy.

At the beginning of the accompanying module;  Architectural Technology and Construction Methods module (ATCM), the students undertook a detailed precedent study of an existing retreat centre, which had been preselected for them, then developed the technical and structural strategies of the proposed Buddhist centre in the latter part of this module.

There was no liaison between ATCM and the Buddhist Centre, though the building was known to the Buddhist Centre Reps, and it was discussed during the presentations.

Designs for the new Buddhist Centre In Nottingham

Project timeline

The project began at the end of November and ran until May when students were required to hand in their final piece of work. The project comprised of three stages:

Stage 1 was to develop the brief and to research the constraints and opportunities of the proposed site, culminating in a formative presentation in Week 25 (Jan 16th).

Stage 2 followed that meeting and focussed on developing the strategic design development, which was ideally informed by the research undertaken in the 1st stage. This then concluded in a formative presentation to tutors and Buddhist representatives at the end of Term 2, where apprentices were given directions by their tutors as to where to focus their attention over the Easter break.

Stage 3 comprised of developing the detailed design of the proposals which then finished with a final presentation to both tutors and Buddhist in Week 42 (15th May). Apprentices were given further formal feedback at this review and had a week to further develop the design before the final hand in on Week 42 (22nd May).

“Hearing and seeing the clients’ responses to the design proposals was wonderful. There certainly were some very appreciative members of Nottingham Buddhist Centre!”

-  Anthony Dalby,  Academic Lead

Nottingham Buddhist Centre on their experience taking part:

"The students were clearly engaged, I appreciated them coming to the centre to get a sense of the place and our needs as an organisation. I also appreciated that they were open to our feedback.

I was generally impressed by the quality of the work they came up with, I was also struck by the range of their presentation, all the buildings proposed were unique and showed their own character while clearly responding to what we have discussed.

It helped us to clarify what's most important to us in terms of the activities that we run and how we prioritise those with the space that we have. It also allowed us to consider what would be essential if we chose to move premises in the near future.

The highlight for me was attending the feedback sessions. It was great to see the interaction between the teachers and students. I really appreciated the consideration that had gone into that work and the care with which it was critiqued.”

- Nottingham Buddhist Centre Representative

Further information

For more information about this project, please contact: Anthony Dalby,