Case Study: HSA Architects, School Design

PLACED worked for Harrison Stringfellow Architects to support the engagement and consultation of students at Formby High School in the design of their new dining space.

Client Aims

  • Create a design informed by and reflecting user need
  • Offer students an opportunity to influence and be involved in the design process, from the design concept to choosing the branding company
  • Give young people a learning experience and opportunity to develop skills and be inspired by the built environment, giving the client real added value.


  • PLACED worked with Su, Director at Harrison Stringfellow – also a PLACED Ambassador, to deliver two workshops
  • The first workshop saw students visiting and critically analysing a number of independent coffee shops with PLACED before developing concept boards, enabling them to better communicate their design preferences to the architects
  • Students reviewed tenders from branding consultants and selected the design agency that would develop the brand for their new common room area
  • The second workshop saw students being consulted on the concepts that had been developed and feeding back to the design team on their preferred design ideas.


  • Invaluable insight into how the space would function, the views of the group on design, brand and the key opportunities and challenges of the space
  • Design informed by students, helping to create a scheme that would better meet the need of clients and users
  • High level of client satisfaction, with the school being extremely positive about the design solution and advising they were really pleased that the architects ‘valued the students involvement and the fact that their input was instrumental in the design’
  • Added Social Value with the development of pupil skills, knowledge and awareness of careers.

Client Feedback


  • Engaging people in the design process is intrinsic to our approach and we wanted to make sure the users of the environment had input into the scheme. We involved PLACED due to their significant experience in working with young people.

Outcomes of the activities for the organisation and participants

  • PLACED helped us develop workshops which allowed the pupils to have an input into the design approach and the appointment of the brand designers. The involvement of students made us challenge our preconceptions, and those of the staff, about how the space should work and opened up dialogue between the different users which helped to hone the brief.

Additional comments?

  • We worked hard to extract best value for money through the finishes and layout of the spaces. Besides achieving additional covers, a wide variety of social seating and improved flow and circulation, the school have also reported an increase in the number of children selecting a hot dinner by 50%. The dining room project has recently won a Gold Award at the Roses Design Awards and been nominated for an AJ Retrofit Award.

“I enjoyed having adults LISTEN to our ideas about the local area and designing a place for us”


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PLACED is the trading name for PLACE Education CIC Company Registration Number 7791873