Streetwise Project

In 2013 we launched ‘Streetwise’ our new interactive townscape heritage awareness raising project for second level school pupils.  Delivered in the form of five interactive, ‘in the field’ half day workshops, the boys of the St Columb’s College Year 11 Art class develop skills and capacity to describe the character of the Walled City THI area, using the same methodologies and criteria as an conservation architect or planner.

Using the THI streets and the buildings enclosing them as the vehicle for learning, the boys braved all weathers to:

  • Sketch their favourite old buildings ‘in the field’
  • Conduct measured surveys of historic walled city streets using laser equipment
  • Describe through mapping.  This included examination of:
    • Green and open spaces
    • Land-use activities
    • Changing plan form through time by preparing of figure-ground maps from a series of historic Ordnance Survey maps
  • Record social activity within the streets, photographically

Sketches were later worked up into more polished art-pieces and annotated to identify the different elements of a historic building.

Other aspects of the project involved interactive inquiry conversations helping the boys:

  • Define professional jargonistic words like:
    • townscape
    • heritage
    • character
  • Describe macro aspects of character such as:
    • wider landscape setting
    • background issues

A later invitation to the same boys to participate in our Taste of Traditional Building Skills workshops generated an enthusiastic ‘yes’ from six.  Some had a unique experience climbing to the top of bell tower at St Columb’s Cathedral, Derry’s oldest building.

Others had a go at traditional lime mortar pointing at ‘Aras Colmcille’.  This is a HLF funded community project to transform the derelict former ‘Wee Nuns primary school’ into a museum and interpretative centre telling the story of Derry’s early Christian monastic, medieval origins, and its founder St Columba.