LSE apprentices involved in design of new public space at Wembley Park

In establishing the Apprenticeship I wanted to think of a method for engaging with young people that could be sustained over a long period of time.
- Dr Julia King
Julia King and apprentices 747 x 560
Apprentices with Dr Julia King at the launch of Samovar Space Chris Winter

Five young adults from the LSE Apprenticeship in City Design programme have designed a new purpose-built public space situated on the iconic Olympic Way in Wembley Park.

Samovar Space, launched as part of a community event on Saturday 22 October, was delivered in partnership with and funded by Quintain, the developer behind Wembley Park. The space is expressly designed by and for young people in recognition of the value of their role in inclusive urban design.

The project is the result of 26 months of collaboration with the five apprentices aged 16-24, who undertook a learning and working experience at LSE. As part of this, they were trained to apply methodologies and tools - including social science-based ethnographic survey and mapping - to understand the potential and imagine the future of new public spaces in the Wembley Park.

Samovar Space was devised as a sociable, open-air space, somewhere where people could spend a long time without having to spend any money. The space was designed in collaboration with architects Flanagan Lawrence who worked with the apprentices through an iterative process to help translate their initial conceptual ideas into realisable spatial solutions.

The apprentices’ chosen themes of “Collaborate,” “Calm” and “Consume” emerged as three budding ideas, devised to provide design intention without strict definitions or rules for the project. They were created around a purpose-built Soundshell, designed by architects Flanagan Lawrence, that will play host to events for young people throughout the year.

Samovar Space takes its name from a large, communal kettle popularly used to brew tea in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Associated with family events and community gatherings, a samovar epitomises the welcoming and non-commercial spirit that the apprentices wanted their proposal to embrace.

The LSE Apprenticeship in City Design empowers young people to become directly involved in community design benefitting under-represented groups in the built environment. It is a legacy project of Brent London Borough of Culture 2020, of which Quintain was a principal partner. The programme has been developed and lead by Dr Julia King, a research fellow at LSE Cities and funded and supported by Quintain and the LSE Department of Sociology KEI fund.

Dr Julia King, Research Fellow at LSE and the LSE Apprenticeship programme lead said: “In establishing the Apprenticeship in City Design I wanted to think of a method for engaging with young people that could be sustained over a long period of time taking a project from conception through to completion; and in doing so give young people the tools to research their own experiences, inform design processes and have a voice in planning and development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn greater attention to how important it is to have just and inclusive public space but if young people are absent from the design, decision-making and planning process, how can we ensure that spaces are truly for them. It has been a great privilege to work with this group of young people who have shown that when local young people are included, they can easily articulate their unmet needs. We have also found that in designing-in young people we have ended up designing-in a lot of other groups which is evident when you go to Samovar Space and see so many demographics using the space in a range of ways.”

Julian Tollast, Head of Masterplanning and Design at Quintain, said: “It is a sad fact that young people's needs are often overlooked when it comes to the built environment. With Samovar Space, we wanted to give this demographic a place to hang out and so we set the LSE apprentices the task of designing something they felt was fitting. It’s important for us that alongside all the changes local people are seeing at Wembley Park it remains an inclusive neighbourhood for all and so we are proud to have worked with the talented LSE apprentices to deliver this special project.

Jason Flanagan, Partner at Flanagan Lawrence, said: “Collaborating with the LSE apprentices to help realise their vision for the Samovar Space has been a unique and enlightening experience, and the process, led by Dr Julia King, LSE’s programme lead, has developed an innovative approach to involving community groups in the design of inclusive public space.”

More information about The LSE Apprenticeship Programme in City Design –