Floodgate Arch

To celebrate the end of their first year of study, Art and Design with Creative Technologies students we given the opportunity to work on a live brief, set in the heart of Birmingham’s Digbeth district, with multiple clients and stakeholders.

Graffiti on a brick wall in Digbeth, Birmingham

The clients and stakeholders

The live brief was set by three key clients: Steve Sanders, Head of Development at Oval Real Estate Limited; Roxanna Collins, Cultural Development and Public Art lead at Birmingham City Council; and,Jason Bruges, Founder of Jason Bruges Studio. 

The Site

The location for the live brief was Floodgate Arch, between Floodgate Street and Gibb Street, in Digbeth. Oval is overseeing the regeneration of the Digbeth Estate, and kindly proposed the Floodgate railway arch as our site.

The brief

Taking inspiration from the clients, the needs of different stakeholders, and the given site, students were asked to collaboratively develop speculative proposals for either a temporary or permanent public artwork, event or intervention. Through visiting the site, and researching the Oval regeneration plan, the Birmingham City Council Public Art Strategy, and the existing local Digbeth community, students developed responses that considered community engagement, diversity, inclusivity, wellbeing, and sustainability. At the end of the project, the student groups were given the opportunity to present their ideas to the clients in person.

Benefits of working on a live brief with real clients

Collaborating with clients gives students insights into the creative industries and a chance to explore potential job roles. Partnerships can also build new relationships between the university, its graduates, and potential links to industry placements and jobs. Presenting to clients helps to place students in a professional environment and enables them to build core skills in visual and verbal communication, vital to a career in the creative industries. Student Joseph Richmond says: “I found having the opportunity to present our Floodgate Arch project to “live clients” to be incredibly beneficial to my learning and self-development during my time on the course. Not only did it give us an understanding of what it’s like to present your work to a panel of clients, but also help prove to ourselves that we can actually do it. I feel this is great in preparing us for our future careers beyond the course.” 

Steve Sanders from Oval says: “As a regeneration specialist and major landowner in the creative district of Digbeth, Oval has access to an abundance of interesting buildings, structures and open spaces and we were delighted to work with the BCU Art and Design with Creative Technologies team to help find a suitable location for this module. It was a pleasure to see the students showcase their final proposals; the depth of research, use of teamwork, professionalism, implementation of technical skills to evolve initial creative concepts into a final presentation from these first-year students was extremely impressive. We loved supporting this initiative and hope to be involved again next year.”

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