Middlesbrough gives lie to its reputation at Dott 07

Middlesbrough, the city billed as the worst place to live in the UK by Channel 4’s Location Location Location, looks set to become a shining example of urban sustainability.

Projects originating from the North East’s most populous town scooped three out of a possible four awards at Designs of the Time 07’s Creative Community Awards.

The awards were set up to reward the most successful of the projects, which involved more than 70 schools and 1000 people in the North East.

The diverse judging panel, chaired by Claire Byers, director of communications for the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, included furniture designer Max Lamb, pollution remediation expert Paul L Younger, director of Gem Arts Vikas Kumar, and Holly Francomb, a pupil at the Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham.

Middlesbrough’s Urban Farming Project picked up two awards – The Creative Community Award and The Journal People’s Voice Award – having been judged the project that best embodied what life in a sustainable region would be like.

The Urban Farming Project used principles of design to help reduce the impact of food miles on the environment, working with service design group Zest Innovation.

With the support of Middlesbrough Council, almost 1000 local people, volunteers and community groups, this project was able to make use of the town’s surplus land, cultivating fruit and vegetables on allotments and creating innovative forms of public space.

The project culminated in the Middlesbrough Town Meal, where the town’s urban farmers and public gathered to see the fresh produce grown in Middlesbrough cooked and served for a mass public meal, says a spokeswoman.

Acklam Grange Middle School triumphed in the Eco Design Challenge, a programme designed to tie in with the national curriculum for Year Eight students.

The school worked with three designers, looking at ways of reducing its carbon footprint through transportation, energy consumption, school meals, water usage and waste disposal. The students at Acklam Grange developed design ideas which included solar panels and filtration ponds.

Two other schools – Tanfield School in Stanley and Lord Lawson School in Beamish – were deemed highly commended and runner-up respectively, for their designs addressing transportation and local food growing issues.

All five of the participating schools will be given financial support from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to help realise the sustainable designs they came up with.

Nesta and the Design Council is now putting the finishing touches to the Eco Design Challenge Phase Two, for the five finalists in this year’s challenge.

Deputy head at Walker Technology College Mike Collier scooped the Creative Citizen Award for his outstanding contribution to The Building Schools for the Future programme, working with service design group Engine on a collaborative vision to remodel the school.


• Over the next eight years, the Dott festival will visit regions throughout the UK biannually

• The Eco Design Challenge has spawned a number of resources including the Carbon Detectives Kit, Education for Sustainable Development, Carbon Control, One World Schools and Sustainable School Self-Evaluation Kit

• The Urban Farming project will spend the next year mapping existing food locations and looking at ways of extending food that has already been grown locally

• For more information, visit www.dott07.com

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