Open City brings education programme to West London, in partnership with The Earls Court Development Company

Arts educational charity Open City has partnered with The Earls Court Development Company (ECDC) in bringing their long-term education programme, Architecture in Schools, to West London for the first time. Yesterday the end-of-programme exhibition was launched, where the children involved presented project portfolios complete with photographs, sketches and final designs including a three-dimensional architectural model.

Eight primary schools from across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham were given a unique opportunity to take part in this year’s programme completely for free, thanks to ECDC’s financial support.

Architecture in Schools aims to inspire the next generation of local city-shapers and educate them about the changes taking place in their community. Primary schools are partnered with top-tier architecture and design professionals, who work with them on a design brief relating to their local neighbourhoods. Each school and architect partnership team have visited Earls Court to attend workshops and learn about place-making, city planning and model-making.

As the built environment sector faces a skills shortage, with a lack of awareness about the options to pursue a career in the sector, it is important to educate young people about the diversity of roles within the industry. The programme includes teacher training on how architecture and placemaking can be used to teach a variety of subjects including art, design, numeracy, literacy, geography and science whilst improving other integral skills.

As part of the programme, key-stage two students from the areas surrounding the former Earls Court Exhibition Centre site were partnered with design professionals from several practices - including Studio Egret West, Hawkins\Brown, ACME, Haworth Tompkins, dRMM, Serie Architects, Sheppard Robson and Maccreanor Lavington – some of the design teams behind the masterplan and the site’s first phase of development. Those participating in the scheme visited the ECDC site to respond to a design brief based on specific aspects each of the architects are working on in the masterplan and also went out across London to visit a range of sites and project to help inspire them.

The programme concludes with an exhibition of the building models created by the students. Architecture in Schools has been key to fostering a new generation of budding architects and designers in West London. The exhibition is open to members of the public at Conversation Corner, Lillie Road, SW6 1TS, on Thursday 6 July (3-6pm), Friday 7 July (3-6pm) and Saturday 8 July (11am-2pm).

The partnership follows the recent unveiling of the draft Earls Court masterplan for consultation, which will transform the 40-acre West London site into a destination for entertainment, innovation, employment and excitement for the next generation.

Commenting on the successful completion of West London’s Architecture in School programme, Sarah Phillips, Head of Education and Empowerment at Open City said: “We are incredibly grateful to The Earls Court Development Company for partnering with us and sponsoring the Architecture in Schools programme to reach more children across London. This expansion will reinforce our mission to improve creativity within education and make London and its built environment more open, equitable and accessible.”

Rebekah Paczek, Director of Public Affairs, Social Value & Community Engagement at The Earls Court Development Company said: “We’re delighted to have partnered with Open City to help bring this brilliant programme to local schools across Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham. The in-person sessions with young people have helped them build necessary creative and communication skills, whilst inspiring the ECDC team as we develop our proposals to bring the wonder back to Earls Court.

“The partnership has not only contributed to our mission of supporting local communities to ensure social wealth, but it has given young people the opportunity to shape the future of this brilliant part of London. The models on display in the exhibition at Conversation Corner on Lillie Road, are wonderful and the brilliant ideas they contain will help inspire our final masterplan vision.”

Open City – founders of the award-winning Open House festival – has worked for three decades to make cities more open, accessible, and equitable. ECDC worked with the charity to invite members of the public to tour the site as part of Open House Festival 2022 and will be involved in this year’s upcoming festival. Founded in London, Open City works with schools and higher education providers to support children and young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, under-represented communities, and with special educational needs and disabilities, to develop the skills needed for successful careers in creative roles; empowering them to shape the places where they live. Its education programmes engage over 3,000 young people across 50 London schools each year.

Schools and practices involved:

Ashburnham Primary - Studio Egret West
Francis Holland - Haworth Tompkins
Kensington Primary - dRMM
Larmenier & Sacred Heart - Acme
Normand Croft - Sheppard Robson
Park Walk - Hawkins Brown
Sir John Lillie - Serie
St Barnabas - Maccreanor Lavington

Notes to editors

The Architecture in Schools programme will run again at Earls Court from the end of 2023 through to Summer 2024, and will be renamed ‘Young Citymakers West London’ to further reflect the range of career opportunities within the built environment sector.

For media enquires related to Open City, please contact:
Flora Cowie, Account Executive
07771 985163,

For media enquiries related to The Earls Court Development Company, please contact:

Joseph Booth, Account Manager
07769 325766,

About Open City
Open City is charity dedicated to making architecture and neighbourhoods more open, accessible and equitable. The mission is to empower communities to learn about, experience and have a role in shaping places where they live. Open City collaborate with people from diverse communities to widen access to spaces, built heritage, neighbourhoods, knowledge and careers they are often excluded from. They do this by creating educational and cultural programmes discussing, celebrating and opening up historic and contemporary buildings and landscapes.

About The Earls Court Development Company

The Earls Court Development Company is a new Earl’s Court-based business, responsible for driving the development of the Earls Court masterplan forward on behalf of Earls Court Partnership Limited. Earls Court Partnership Limited is the joint venture between Delancey (on behalf of its client funds and the Dutch pension fund manager, APG) and Transport for London (TfL).

The site was purchased in 2019 from its previous owners, Capital and Counties Properties (CapCo). The first decision ECDC took after acquiring the site was to hand back the West Kensington and Gibbs Green housing estates - originally part of the previous owners’ masterplan - to Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

In February 2023, The Earls Court Development Company presented the emerging designs for the masterplan. The draft masterplan proposes:

  • A new park at the heart of the site, larger in size than Trafalgar Square
  • Other public spaces including a new entrance square opposite Earl’s Court station that will retain and celebrate the steps to the Exhibition Centres, set to become a new but familiar West London public space and a key connection point through to Earl’s Court Road
  • A variety of new performance and community venues and cultural programmes that attract and nurture talent.
  • 15,000 new jobs in a new economic centre for West London, and 2,000 construction jobs during the build period
  • 4,500 new homes to cater for all needs, targeting 35% affordable across all tenures.
  • A plan that delivers for London and the UK, projecting £1.2billion per year GVA to the economy and £100million of annual spend into the local economy.