Connecting classrooms to our commercial and community spaces

Connecting classrooms to our commercial and community spaces Picture 1
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We are giving young people an insight into the built environment with a tour of Manor Place Depot.

Over the past two years, Notting Hill Genesis has been collaborating with Class of Your Own at Ark Walworth Academy in Southwark. Class of Your Own are award-winning creators of the Design Engineer Construct Learning Programme in secondary schools.

Together with the help of 13 consultants and contractors, we provided three sessions for 560 students in year 7, 8 and 9. Throughout the design and build sessions, the young people were tasked with designing a fictional commercial or community space.

They were asked to take into consideration the design, structure, materials, finance, sustainability and usability of the space. The aim was to connect young people to the built environment, career opportunities, non-direct career routes, and the varied skillsets needed to deliver construction projects.

Following the theory sessions, we saw an opportunity to connect the design sessions to the real built environment through our varied commercial portfolio. Working with Notting Hill Commercial Properties, we offered the winners from the theory learning sessions a day trip to Manor Place Depot.

Steeped in history and having had a variety of uses over the years from recycling plant, boxing arena and bathing hall, the site has 270 mixed tenure homes, nine refurbished commercial use railway arches and a Grade II-listed bath and wash house. The site really got the students thinking critically and visualising potential career opportunities.


With the help of Commercial Properties Officer, we arranged for the nine students to get a four-hour tour. A void commercial arch was our base for the day and showed the young people how a space can be transformed depending on the business use. We provided a history of the area and the spaces, how we built the residential blocks and refurbished the arches into commercial spaces. 

We looked at the commercial fit out, property management, asset management, placemaking and the varied interim uses through the development and lettings process.  Their teacher, who accompanied students on the tour, was impressed by how it got the students thinking critically and how they were able to connect their experience on the day to what they were learning at school.

Two commercial tenants, Onboards and Hermanoes Columbian Coffee Roasters, took time to explain their experience of the commercial spaces, their business model, the challenges they face, the skills they use and how they’ve adapted their businesses. Hermanoes provided a tour of their roastery, explained the different roasts of coffee and provided a delicious lunch. 

Feedback from the day was that “It is a great initiative, giving the young people insight and an introduction into the built environment showing the importance of critical thinking and problem solving, as well as encouraging them into a potential career in the industry.”

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