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Architecture design tutor helps kids light up Soho, London for Christmas

20 December 2023

Primary school-aged children pose with photocopies of Christmas light designs
Pupils from Soho Parish Primary School show off their Christmas light designs at street party and switch-on event ©Tunde Valiszka

14 primary school children have seen their Christmas lighting designs brought to life in an exhibition on the streets of London as part of the Soho Kids Xmas Lights project.

The showcase of designs from pupils of Soho Parish Primary School are inspired by their local area and respond to the themes of lighting, identity of place, and fashion.

The organisers say the exhibition also acts as an invitation to the entire community to engage and reflect on the importance of the identity of a place and its development.

The project, inspired by primary school pupils in Newburgh, Scotland, was set up in 2021 and is co-produced by Antonio Capelao a design tutor at Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture and the co-founder of Architecture for Kids CIC.

Antonio said: “I can’t believe this is the third annual edition of the Soho Kids Xmas Lights project.

“Every year the pupils’ designs get more and more experimental and challenging. And this is especially true in 2023, as they reflect on a complex design brief by exploring the role light plays in cultures and communities, and how to create feelings of identity and a sense of place from the areas we inhabit.”

The children researched their local community, cultures and traditions and visited the London Fashion and Textile Museum to help gain inspiration for their designs.

A series of design workshops led by the project’s co-producers Antonio, Hannah Peaty, Assistant Head Teacher Soho Parish Primary School, and Joshua Brooks, Interim Learning Manager at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), helped bring their ideas to life.

All 130 school pupils transformed their investigations into lighting designs depicting aspects of local identity and feelings of personal identity.

The children’s designs were judged by a committee of local residents and businesses owners, with some also selected by the RIBA and the Lighting Industry Association to receive an award for their outstanding design work.

The 14 winners’ designs have been transformed into large LED lighting displays with help from Blachere Illumination UK.

The children also decided where to exhibit their lights – throughout Soho alongside the 35 lighting panels produced in two previous editions – which are on display between 14 November 2023 and 7 January 2024.

Antonio added: “A special thank you to the sponsors, and to Councillor Patrick Lilley for all his efforts and to the whole community, for supporting our project which, at its heart, is a celebration of light during the darkest months of the year!”

Find out more about Soho Kids Xmas Lights.

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