In 2007, students from BA Architecture at Central Saint Martins, worked with the charity “WithFeeling” to develop proposals for a ‘day centre’; to support children living on the streets of Bucharest, Romania.
Travelling to Bucharest, students worked with local groups to learn about the lives of “street children” and helped in the work of the charity. This life-changing experience helped students to recognise not just the challenges of life on the streets for these children and their families, but to see opportunities to support them in different ways.
For many of those living on the streets, because of the history of Romania, there is a fear of institutions. Many children have experienced additional trauma in ‘shelters’ or are afraid of being separated from their families. Thus, a ‘day centre’ could provide a place of safety during the day; offering meals and education, while helping young people and families to build trust in and transition into more formal support.
Student responses ranged were diverse. From urban farms; where children could engage in learning about farming and nutrition through growing the food they would learn to cook and then eat, to roof top sports fields (with a commercial hotel below, to raise funds for the centre).
The project resulted in an exhibition, sponsored by a London-based stone supplier.