Designing the Future Exhibition Celebrates Creative Solutions

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I had the pleasure of visiting the Designing the Future Exhibition at the Historic Dockyard recently.

Young Kent and Medway students with a flair for design and an enthusiasm for innovative solutions were the first to take part in Designing The Future – a new project looking for fresh ideas to meet some of the major challenges of the next 20 – 100 years

About 200 students from nine secondary schools attended a series of workshops led by designers and architects – all postgraduate students or alumni of the Royal College of Art.

The students’ work will be on public display at a Designing The Future exhibition at No.1 Smithery, The Historic Dockyard Chatham, until July 10th.

Designing the Future has been launched by the Rochester Bridge Trust to mark the centenary of the re-opening of the reconstructed Rochester Old Bridge, and is a partnership between the Trust and The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

The Trust developed the project with Alan Cummings, Emeritus Professor of the Royal College of Art and Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London. It has also gained the backing of Arts Council England, ReachOutRCA, the Creative Mentors Foundation, and the University of Kent School of Music and Fine Art.

Professor Cummings hopes Designing the Future will be adopted by schools across the country and established as a nationwide event.

He said: “It’s vital that we inspire our young people to think about the challenges ahead. They are the designers, engineers, scientists, social scientists and business people of the future. We will depend on their creativity and expertise for our survival and our quality of life.”

A series of Designing the Future student workshops on three challenging themes were held at 3 Slip – The Big Space – at The Historic Dockyard on June 16, 17, and 18.

Silver Linings in Hackatopia  looked at potential uses of redundant material, products and places following technological progress. Survi-ville examined how people would live and support communities if large areas of Kent were flooded. Meanwhile, Being Human questioned what it will mean to be human when artificial limbs and organs outstrip “natural” capabilities.

Alex Patterson, Collections and Galleries Manager at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Designing the Future which is an exceptional project. We hope that our unique buildings and environment here at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, including the iconic No.3 Slip, will inspire a range of interesting and innovative visions of the future from young people across Kent.

“We are also delighted that Arts Council England has given its generous support for what is shaping up to be an exciting show.”
Designing the Future participating schools are: Maidstone Grammar School; Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone; Valley Park School, Maidstone; Trinity School, Rochester; Strood Academy; Chatham Grammar School for Boys; Gravesend Grammar School; Tonbridge Grammar School; and Cobham Hall.

Find out more about Designing the Future at


Photograph shows me with the Senior Warden of the Rochester Bridge Trust Russell Race DL

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