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Gravity launches design competition for Sedgemoor students: Architect and TV presenter George Clarke is supporting the competition

Thursday 22nd April, 2021

Gravity is teaming up with two educational charities to launch a design competition that aims to encourage local youngsters to get involved with the project to create the UK’s first smart campus and community.

Gravity, which is based on the site of the former Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) between Puriton and Woolavington, is launching the Gravity Young Persons’ Design Challenge in partnership with Bounce Forward, a charity dedicated to teaching young people resilience as a life skill, and the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), a charity founded by architect and TV Presenter George Clarke to inspire young people to rethink about the way we design and build places and communities, and offering them a window into a future career in the built environment.

Primary and secondary schools, and colleges across Sedgemoor are being invited to take part in the competition to imagine and design what kind of a place Gravity will be to achieve its vision of creating a zero-carbon community that integrates work, rest and play. 

Claire Pearce, Director of Planning and Economic Development at Gravity, comments: “Gravity is committed to ensuring that this landmark project delivers benefits to the local community, even at this very early stage. We’re excited to be working with Bounce Forward and MOBIE, and engaging with local schools and colleges, to take advantage of the educational opportunities that Gravity is already creating.

“As a project which will create over 4000 jobs, it is important to think about how we can reduce the need to travel to work, what we can include as part of the scheme to help local people access work opportunities, and how to design in integrated homes and leisure opportunities, as part of a new integrated, and sustainable community.

“Through this competition, we’re encouraging young people to think about place making; what do they want from Gravity and places of the future? What kind of workspaces and homes create a happy, healthy and well-connected place to live and work?”

The challenge

Students will be challenged to design a zero-carbon home in a new employment led community that reflects Gravity’s vision of being clean and inclusive, considering the wellbeing of people, the community, and the planet. Youngsters will need to show their home in the context of its wider place, including connections to work, green space and transport links, and how smart technology would be used to support new ways of living. 

George Clarke, MOBIE founder, says, “I am delighted that we are launching this exciting design challenge for schools in Sedgemoor, to create a new home and place on the ground-breaking Gravity smart campus and community – a place for clean, advanced manufacturing industries and for people to live, a new place to live, work and play.  

“By harnessing the talents, ideas and energy of the young people of today we can change the way we create places and how we build homes. The amazing student designs that I know will flow from this challenge will show that we have a future generation with the talent and the imagination to really make a difference for people and the planet.”

Support for students and teachers

MOBIE and Bounce Forward have already hosted a webinar to provide participating schools with information and support about how to get involved. Further webinars for schools are available on request. Bounce Forward will also run three webinars aimed at secondary school students to support their involvement with the competition and personal resilience. In addition, Bounce Forward will run webinars to support teachers’ personal development.

Lucy Bailey, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Bounce Forward, explains: “Our overall aim is to help young people develop resilience, not just to overcome setbacks, but to solve problems and think creatively. In the context of this competition, we want to support students, and their teachers, to be open and curious to new perspectives and have the confidence to let their imaginations go.” 

Cllr Gill Slocombe, Deputy Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, adds: “This competition presents a wonderful opportunity for young people to get involved with Gravity – a project of national and international importance located here in their local area. As plans emerge to create this innovative and sustainable community in Sedgemoor, it’s important we listen to what young people want from Gravity, and for their future.”

The Gravity Young Persons’ Design Challenge has two age categories, 12-15 and 16-18. The finalists will be announced on 18 June and the winners revealed at an event to take place in June or July 2021 (details to be confirmed). For more information, visit: https://www.mobie.org.uk/challenges/gravity.

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