The Building Exploratory works in partnership with cultural organisations, artists and facilitators and the private sector to devise and develop innovative education and creative projects.


Going for Green

Going for Green

Dalston Time Capsule

Dalston Time Capsule

Lord Mayors Show
Places of Worship

Places of Worship

Religion and Place

Hackney Hoardings Project

Portico Interactive


Winning Places Winning Places

Memory Blitz



going for green stadium modelGoing For Green 2010
Globe Primary School, Tower Hamlets

The Building Exploratory has been commissioned by A New Direction to design and deliver a creative partnerships project, with an Olympic focus, in collaboration with Globe Primary School in Tower Hamlets. Students and teachers have been working with a wide range of artists including: sculptors, performers and storytellers to learn about the 2012 stadium, the impact of the 2012 Games on their local area, its wildlife, and sustainability.

Using information and ideas  collected through meetings with architects andmembers of the Olympic Development Agency, and during visits to the 2012 site and the Emirates stadium, the students have created their own models of a sustainable stadium for 2012.

Their proposals include suggestions for how the legacy can accommodate wildlife and mini beasts and be as green as possible. The end of term will seea final celebration where students will present their designs to their fellows and families.

If you would like information about how to get involved with the Building Exploratory’s school projects please contact Janet Clark  




Dalston time capsule 2Dalston Time Capsule
Year 4

To capture an important moment in the development of Dalston Junction, the Building Exploratory worked with students at Holy Trinity Primary School and Colvestone Primary School to fill a Time Capsule with a record of their area. In a project organised by Hackney Council Cultural Development, the studentsfirst learnt about the history and development of Dalston Junction through a mapping workshop and by meeting a historic character at the Hackney Museum.

The students then had the opportunity to work with two artists from Plattformer, to create plaster cast cubes made up of impressions of surfaces and found objects. Photos of the students holding their cubes will be placed in the Time Capsule which will be buried in the Dalston Junction developmentata ceremony in May 2011.



Lord Mayors Show 2010

exploring adventureAt the Lord Mayors Show on Saturday 14th November 2010 the Building Exploratory unveiled its remarkable new bridge float designed by Freshwest to promote the work of the City bridge trust. The float is the culmination of an innovative partnership project with children from Christ Church Primary School. During creative sessions organised by The Building Exploratory with a rich series of creative partners including Freshwest Design, Tall Engineers, Circus Space, and Akademi South Asian Dance, students had a unique opportunity to learn about the history, form and function of London’s bridges
The project was commissioned by the City Bridge Trust to celebrate both their charitable contribution to projects across London and their role as caretakers of the five bridges that cross the Thames into the City. The learning process and bridge-themed float designed by Freshwest Design demonstrated this important contribution to linking London’s communities.

Clare Thomas, Chief Grants Officer, City Bridge Trust, said:
“We wanted a bridge theme to illustrate how both the bridge itself and our grant making are helping to make connections between communities. The Building Exploratory were the natural partners for us and have created an unforgettable project and a unique structure.”

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, Arts Council England, London said:
“The Building Exploratory has a successful history of working in partnership with local communities in London. Through supporting their ambitious collaborative work, the Arts Council is pleased to be helping to widen participation in the arts”


Kindness in Kender

The Building Exploratory worked with Design for London, New Cross gate Trust and East Architecture to facilitate the creative engagement of local people with the redevelopment of Hatcham Gardens in Lewisham. The widespread programme sought to support the development of citizens’creative, critical and social skills and to raise aspirations for, and a sense of ownership over, theredeveloped Gardens.

The new design for the Gardens has been explored through a programme of walks, poetry sessions and creative activities. A series of flyers and posters supported the widespread communication of the changes taking place and provided the project with a strong visual identity.

Local children have contributed to the design and legacy: developing promotional artwork, signage, an audit of trees and learning pack. Inspired by an inscription found on a wooden bench in the Gardens, they worked with a poet to produce inscriptions for the new furniture and to encourage kindness in Kender.

A series of promotional postcards to advertise events and changes in the park.


Places of Worship
Places of Worship 2009

In partnership with English Heritage and the Churches Conservation Trust, the Building Exploratory undertook an investigation of the condition, use and significance of listed places of worship across Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Working with a team of committed volunteers we aimed to record the condition of 70 listed places of worship in the two boroughs. This survey forms part of a national strategy aimed at better understanding the condition of places of worship. For further information and photos, please visit our volunteers blog.

This project builds upon previous investigations of places of worship carried out by the Building Exploratory during 2007 as part of our highly successful project “Religion and Place in Tower Hamlets”.


Religion and Place in Tower Hamlets
Places of Worship

Religion and Place is a unique and timely project, encouraging engagement with religious heritage. It offers an innovative opportunity for learning about religious beliefs and practice in one of the country’s most culturally diverse boroughs.

The project began with a unique experience for five artists and 150 Tower Hamlets secondary school pupils, facilitated by the Building Exploratory. Based on research carried out by English Heritage, ten faith buildings were selected from the 167 places of worship in the borough. The buildings selected covered a range of faiths including different Christian denominations, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism allowing the students to meet and work with members of faiths different to their own.

Using the Building Exploratory’s unique teaching and learning methods, the artists and students visited the buildings and challenged their understanding of faith. They learned new creative skills and used these to develop their artistic and personal responses to the buildings and their users. The artists then interpreted the students’ responses through three-dimensional artworks called faith chests.

The the research and creative outcomes have been made accessible through an a printed booklet and a website.



Winning Places at the Emirates StadiumWinning Places
Winning Places is the Building Exploratory's innovative programme linked to, a nationwide programme by CABE that uses the excitement around the Olympics to inspire people about architecture and the built environment. In March 2009, the programme was successfully replicated by Northern Architecture, in Newcastle. Two films following the participants' journey in London and Newcastle can now be watched on YouTube.




Hackney Hoardings Project  

Hackney Council commissioned the Building Exploratory to engage the local community in order to create an artwork to draw interest to the new Council building.

Professional artist and designer, Florian Kremb, worked with the Building Exploratory's education team and Year 9 Design and Technology pupils from Hackney Free and Parochial CE School to develop a vibrant piece of public art that enlivens the area and celebrates Hackney. The young people generated ideas for the artwork by exploring themes such as their role as citizens of the borough, their own 'place' in Hackney, and the architecture of the new building.

The final artwork celebrates Hackney's diversity, energy and creativity through the young people's design concepts. Each of the young people has a presence on the hoardings through their own silhouettes and ideas embodied in the designs, which invite you to examine Hackney’s overlooked details and delights.

This cross-curricular project was delivered with the Design & Technology department but also has links to the ICT, Numeracy, Literacy, Art & Design and Citizenship curricula. If you would like more information about this project, please contact Claire Toogood on 020 7729 2023 or


Portico Interactive

The Building Exploratory, in partnership with Polly Hudson Design and Steve Evans 3 Figs Ltd, recently delivered an exciting learning resource, the Portico Interactive, for the Learning Trust interpreting and illuminating the history and heritage of the Clapton Portico.

The Portico has recently been redeveloped as the City Learning Centre. The interactive was commissioned to fit in with the technology focus of the new site and help teachers utilise the rich heritage of the site for learning activity.

The finished digital learning resource illustrates the fascinating history of the Portico and the surrounding area from the Prehistoric period to the present day. A series of eight historically accurate 3D animated models take users through the development of the London Borough of Hackney. The model provides a unique way of looking at history, demonstrating our constantly changing environment and the making of history itself.

The animations and accompanying learning books are set within an easy-to-use browser interface designed by project partner The Grid. The learning books are aimed primarily at teachers and students at Key Stage 2, the main audience of the centre, though are suitable for all age groups to use for independent learning activity. They include written histories of the site within the context of the historical development of Hackney at the time, archive material, curriculum links, sources of further information and local places of relevance.

The completed Portico Interactive is now in use at the City Learning Centre and can also be viewed as part of the Building Exploratory's interactive exhibition. For more information, please contact us on or 020 7729 2011.



‘Treasures’, a collaboration between the Building Exploratory and the communities of Newington Green, reveals the hidden heritage of the Green by seeking to inform, entice, enhance, involve, enchant and encourage both young and old, resident, trader and visitor alike.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and London Borough of Islington, ‘Treasures’ began when an initial research project, ‘building memories: a guide to Newington Green’, revealed the uniqueness of this place and stimulated a public demand for physical evidence of the past on the newly regenerated Green.
The ‘treasures,’ eleven small sculptures set into the earth around the Green, were developed through consultations, creative workshops and events with local adults and children. Each artwork plays sound clips of writings about Newington Green, in English and Turkish, recorded by local people. Bi-annual recording events will provide opportunities for generating and installing further sound clips.

Children from Newington Green School participated in creative learning activities throughout the project. This included writing and recording a poem for one of the ‘treasures’, and training as ‘tour guides before leading treasure hunts on the Green.

The Building Exploratory has published a folder of eleven ‘treasures’ postcards to celebrate the project, along with a learning guide aiming to inspire people elsewhere to develop their own ‘treasures’ projects. If you would like copies of the project publications or would like more information, please contact us on 020 7729 2011 or


Memory Blitz

The ‘Memory Blitz’ project celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War by recording the wartime memories of Hackney residents. The project was inspired by bomb damage maps and accompanying photos showing the way the war shaped the borough. It aimed to find out how people’s lives were affected by the huge disruption to their physical environment.

A series of reminiscence recording activities took place with groups of older people at local day centres. The participants spoke of how the war affected their homes, where they were forced to take shelter and how it shaped their local neighbourhoods. The sessions revealed the many ways war changed everyday life in Hackney.
The Building Exploratory also worked with a group of young people from Northwold School, giving them a chance to interview the older people about their memories. Listening to the reminiscence helped the children to imagine what wartime life in Hackney was like. They then created an artwork incorporating their own images and feelings about what they had heard alongside photos of the damage caused by the bombing.

The project culminated with the creation of the ‘Memory Blitz’ website containing excerpts and soundclips from the reminiscence sessions along with images from the war. This new resource helps everyone understand what life was like in wartime Hackney. For more information about this project, please contact Karen Elmes on or on 020 7729 2184