First year students on Regent’s University London’s Interior Design BA (Hons) course were invited by the Bengali Workers' Association to develop proposals for the ground floor and outdoor area of the Surma Community Centre.
Located in the London borough of Camden, the Surma Community Centre is a vital part of the local infrastructure, and offers a range of community activities and services including information, advice and guidance in areas around employment, training and welfare benefits, as well as older people’s services and youth provision.
The live project required students to develop a design proposal for new welcome area, cafe and multi-functional co-working space, and provided an opportunity for students to develop their communication skills and gain first-hand experience in working with a client.
Already a place where people go to socialise, get advice and learn new skills, a redeveloped Surma Centre could benefit the health of the wider community, said Nassar Ali, Strategic and Operations Director for the Bengali Workers’ Association at the Surma Community Centre.
“Bengali Worker’s Association (BWA) is based at Surma Centre in the Regent’s Park Ward, one of the most deprived Wards in the borough of Camden,” commented Ali.
“We were provided with invaluable support from first year Interior Design BA (Hons) students from Regent’s, to help conceptualise a new layout for the building as part of interim works to be undertaken in spring 2018.
“The work was undertaken within a period of six weeks - from initial briefing to conceptual design. The thought process and creative thinking that went into the final presentations absolutely blew me away! All four designs incorporated a collection of themes and design that told a narrative about the work we undertake as a charity, and how it embodies the spirit of a community centre that touched every aspect of our brief.
“BWA service users, staff and trustees are ever so grateful for the hard work and creative input of the students and tutors in helping turn our vision and aspirations into a reality.”
The project gave students the opportunity to investigate function and ergonomics, learning about the principles of how buildings are designed to accommodate the needs of people. Students were required to regard the Camden Local Plan and the client’s objective, but were also encouraged to be as creative and ambitious as they like.
Karen Hutchins said of the experience: “It's been a great opportunity to work on such an important live project in our first year. I feel like I have learned so much about the creative process an interior designer goes through in each project.
"I have really enjoyed working with our client Nassar and the Bengali centre, to work towards a finished project that will cater to his and the community’s needs.”
Fellow student, Courtney Celine Welham, added: “Having been given the opportunity to take part in this live project has really helped us understand how to work with a client and create a final outcome designed for their needs.
“It was especially rewarding presenting our proposed designs to our client and seeing their response, as well as receiving encouraging & useful feedback. I have really enjoyed this experience and I can’t wait till our next live project.”
Courtney Celine Welham's Surma Centre visualisations.