Land Design creates interactive learning experience for children

Land Design Studio has created an experiential interactive facility for the London Borough of Sutton to educate children about the dangers of social problems.

The consultancy designed and built the Sutton Life Centre with architect Curl la Tourelle in 2008. It comprises a library, sports facilities, eco garden and centre for learning.

The centre seeks to engage year six and year eight children in interactive teachings on the dangers of drug culture, alcohol, cyber-bullying and life-threatening hazards, as well as educate them on social responsibility.

Set design, digital interfaces and film design have been combined to create the experience over three main spaces.

Three classes of 30 children can be taken around the facility at any one time, and they can start their tour in any section.

’When you come into the main street, you’ve got shops around you and a sort of digital billboard,’ says Land Design Studio creative director Peter Higgins. On-screen presentations depict child actors dropped on to a digital set through use of blue-screen technology.

A transport zone, which seeks to educate, through dramatised CCTV footage, shows recordings of incidents involving theft and knife crime.

An immersive 360-degree virtual space allows children to view a circular screen tackling urban hazards including derelict buildings and railway tracks, as well as environmental issues.

Rainforest destruction is shown by zooming into the Amazon through a satellite view, the importance of bees and pollination are discussed and the effects of global warming demonstrated by ’filling up’ the screen with salt water, ice water and fresh water to show how little is drinkable.

’The apartment’ consists of four rooms and is designed to help children understand domestic situations. ’First of all, they’ll walk into a kitchen where a radio reporter is talking about issues of diet, and then if you turn the pages of a magazine it relates to the report,’ says Higgins.

Domestic violence is also tackled, and through a living room TV, messages are related on how to deal with the fire brigade correctly. A kids’ bedroom shows online scenarios through computers. ’Depending on the age group, we can either show issues of cyber-bullying or stalking,’ Higgins says.

At the end of the session, all children are brought back together in the high street, where, says Higgins, ’websites, phone numbers and takeaway solutions are provided’.

Higgins says, ’It will open doors of debate, leave experiential memories and start children talking about these things.’

Interactive teaching
The facility is being opened today by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
Advice, statistics and case studies have been drawn from research with police, education experts, prisons and social services to create a script by Land Design Studio which feeds the experience

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