North East Connected

Student Designs make their Mark with Local Heritage Group

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 14.01.12Three design students from a north east art and design college have impressed Easington Colliery Heritage Group (ECHG) with their designs for a future visitor centre at the former mining site.

The community organisation, which aims to preserve the history of Easington’s mining heritage, approached Cleveland College of Art & Design on Green Lane in Middlesbrough with the opportunity for students to take part in a ‘live brief’, which involved creating designs for a brand new visitors centre.

Level 3 3D Design students Owen Williams, 18, Rebecca Robson, 18 and Ahmed Elkamel, 19, were given a detailed brief by ECHG and were tasked with creating a visually impressive design of the centre, meeting specific requirements and highlighting the industrial heritage. This included a great deal of research from the students on the Easington community and its mining history, so to reflect the past and preserve its memory for future generations.

Each student produced a 3D model of their chosen design, as well as a detailed final report, which laid out the research behind the proposed designs, the specifications, ideas and inspirations which influenced the designs, along with images and sketches showing the development of the designs. The students also displayed their designs on a series of boards, and invited the client to view them, where they presented their ideas.

Brian Jolly from ECHG said: “The students have done a fantastic job and each one has incorporated something about the area and its coal mining heritage and local history, which is very important to reflect. We didn’t expect this much detail and Owen, Rebecca and Ahmed have far exceeded what we wanted to present to the rest of the group and local councillors. The 3D models have helped ECHG to envisage what the proposed visitors centre could look like and is much better than just having pictures to look at, as the concept is easier to visualise.”

Owen Williams from Peterlee is going on to study for his degree in architecture at Northumbrian University. His designs were inspired through his family’s experiences, with two generations having worked at the colliery – his Grandad worked in the mine and his Dad helped to level the mine.

He said: “My design for the centre is clean, clear and crisp, with lots of curves and brick that looks like wood. I fell in love with the view, so constructed a balcony for visitors to enjoy. The ECHG live brief was really fun and a great experience, presenting new problems and ways of pushing through them to get the best results. My time here has been great and I have been given the skills required to take on new ideas and problems. When I went for university interviews I was told my work was the same quality as their students, which gave me a massive confidence boost, and it’s all because of this course.”

Rebecca Robson from Ormesby in Middlesbrough was influenced by angular shapes which reminded her of the mining shaft.

She said: “My designs had a contemporary and historic feel using a combination of steel, glass, concrete and sedimentary rock and which reflects the mine and history of the land. Studying interior, architecture and product design at CCAD, I have learned a wide range of skills and knowledge that has given me confidence and also made me more independent. Live projects like the ECHG visitors centre help set you up for the world of work and real life. Thanks to the tutors, I have excelled this year on my final major project, the ECHG concept, and would fully recommend this course to anyone who is interested in design.”

Rebecca is joining Owen at Northumbria University and will be studying for a BA (Hons) in Architectural Design Technology.

Ahmed Elkamel from Linthorpe in Middlesbrough said: “I have worked on some great live projects, including this architecture project for ECHG, which has helped me develop my skills in dealing with clients, such as meeting deadlines and presenting work. One of the best choices I have made is to study on the BTEC Extended Diploma in 3D Design at CCAD, which has played a large part in my development as a designer.”

Ahmed is going on to study for an architecture degree at Leeds Beckett University.

Martyn Featherstone, lecturer at CCAD in 3D Design, said: “The students did a cracking job and all three of them listened to the client’s requirements and ethos, were realistic with the brief and produced some amazing work. They have worked very hard and we wish them the best of luck at university and success in their chosen careers.”

ECHG are now looking after the students’ design work, including the models, and in the near future will be presenting the works to local councillors and other stakeholders in the hope of gaining their full support for the idea.

Brian added: “As we are still taking our first steps with this project, the next stage will be to seek the support of the wider community through a formal survey.”

For more information on opportunities at CCAD contact (01642) 288888 or visit

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