Case Study: Hyde Park Barracks workshop
© RCAHMS/The Lighthouse

27.03.2008 | what’s on
by RCAHMS, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

Who took part?
Soldiers from the Life Guards regiment

What building did we look at?
Hyde Park Cavalry Barracks, Knightsbridge, London

Final product
Photography blog

This workshop reflected the everyday lives of soldiers living within the Barracks. Often, only the external impressions of a building are recorded – we achieved the opposite here, with the soldiers taking part documenting the building from a personal perspective. The soldiers were asked to record their everyday activities using digital cameras and the resulting photos were uploaded onto a specially created blog site.
“It certainly gave me an insight into the architecture of the building”
(soldier, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment)

Learning aims
• Gain a better understanding of making and using photography
• To develop a further understanding of how to interpret and use architectural plans and archive material in an engaging and interactive way.
• Feel enabled to record and share their community’s day to day life through photography
• Gain a greater awareness of their living environment

Learning outcomes
• Practical understanding of how to use and create an online “blog” site
• Development of photographic skills
• Greater confidence in creative abilities
• Greater understanding and appreciation of their living environment

1. Exploring archive material relating to Hyde Park Cavalry Barracks
As a group, participants explored the archive material with the help of an RCAHMS staff member.
Questions the group considered when examining the archive material:

• How has the building changed since it was first designed?
• How have different parts of the building had to adapt to modern technology and the modern pressures of army life?
• Has the use of any parts of the barracks changed since it was first designed?

This session was very interactive and allowed participants to:

• Investigate the history of the building in which they are resident
• Share their own personal experiences of life within the barracks.

2. Making a photographic record of life within the barracks to upload to a blog site
Many of the soldiers who took part in the workshop had little experience of either photography or using internet blogs or online communication tools.
Working with a photographer and using photographs taken from the archive, participants were shown basic photography techniques and asked to take their own photographs of the barracks, documenting their everyday activity within the building.
Participants were asked to consider the following when taking their photographs:

• Composition
• Camera angle
• Balance
• Pattern and lighting
• Perspective
• Shapes and lines

Participants were then shown how to upload their photographs to a blog site created for the project. During the course of the workshop, which took place over five days, participants were also able to read and respond to the comments that people left on the blog so that a dialogue began to occur.
This activity allowed participants a chance to exercise their creative skills and to gain confidence in their own artistic expression. Having an opportunity to share their work online greatly contributed to this experience.
This type of activity fully accords with the core aims and purposes of the Curriculum for Excellence and would also be appropriate for the issues studies in Citizenship and could be integrated into other National curriculum areas, for example, History, Art and Design and Design and Technology.

Further development
The creation of efficient space was an important aspect of the design for Hyde Park Cavalry Barracks in London. Consider the following questions:

• What factors did Spence need to consider when he designed this complex?
• Who had to be accommodated and how was this achieved? What different requirements did each group have?
• What other spaces or places can you think of which would present similar concerns to those which Spence dealt with at the barracks?

Materials & Equipment
Digital cameras
Laptop computers
Copies of archive material

Information on the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project
In 2003, the Spence family presented the Sir Basil Spence Archive to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). The gift of nearly 40,000 items spans Spence’s entire working life, from student drawings and early career, through his competition-winning design for Coventry Cathedral, to his later achievements with schools, universities, airports, social housing and hospitals.
Working in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland and The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City, RCAHMS undertook cataloguing and conservation work to make the archive available for public study and exhibition, and used it as inspiration for a series of audience development activities.
The aim of the workshop programme, developed in partnership with The Lighthouse, was to encourage primary and secondary school pupils as well as community groups to engage with the work of Spence in particular and with architectural archive material more generally. The themes of the workshops included past and present, housing and school design, new design in historic places and the so-called “Golden Age” of air travel. The activities engaged in ranged from, film and model making to the assembly of a public sculpture. The workshops took place in twelve venues, all areas with significant work by Spence, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Coventry and London.
The project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government Architecture Policy Unit.

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