Looking to the future – George Clarke and Teesside University partnership aiming to transform home design

George Clarke MOBIE day

Renowned and respected TV architect George Clarke returned to Teesside University to inspire the next generation of home designers and innovators.

The presenter of Channel 4 programmes Restoration Man, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and Old House New home, was in Middlesbrough to meet the first cohort of the MOBIE MSc Advanced Home Futures course at Teesside University and offer his insight and expertise about how to make it in the industry.

He was also a judge on a nationwide MOBIE Campus Design Challenge, in partnership with DEC (Design, Engineer, Construct), which tasked young people from around the country to design innovative and sustainable student accommodation. Three national winners were chosen to visit Teesside University, meet George, present their designs and work on their ideas further.

George is the founder of MOBIE, Ministry of Building Innovation and Education, an educational charity which is spearheading a fundamental change to the building industry. MOBIE is focused on raising the design standards, build quality and innovation around home building.

The MSc Advanced Home Future is part of a suite of programmes developed in partnership between MOBIE and Teesside University which take a new look at the building industry and challenge the status quo.

George said: “MOBIE is all about the future of home design in Britain and across the world. There has been a lack of investment in the construction industry for home building over the last 30 to 40 years and we need to raise the design and build standards. Fundamentally, we are still building homes the way we did hundreds of years ago and there is a real need for innovation.

George Clarke MOBIE day

“From my initial meeting to talk about MOBIE, Teesside University was determined to develop new courses. The industry will struggle to change without great students coming through a great university. The courses are an ideal opportunity for students to push forward their creative thinking and change the industry.

“We’ve now got our first cohort of MSc students here at the University which is really exciting and it was a pleasure to meet them and see their work. They are all incredibly talented and extremely dedicated.”

From September 2019, Teesside University is also offering a BSc (Hons) Innovative Home Design and Construction, and George is thrilled to see the portfolio of courses expanding.

He said: “To be able to offer a BSc is a huge step and is very exciting. The need for us to design well-built, affordable homes across Britain is massive and we want to do that in an exciting way. The first place to start is with the MOBIE courses.

“The construction industry is changing quite quickly. Recently it was announced that Amazon and Google, who are big hitters, are starting to invest in the home building market. It isn’t just a national change – it’s international, and over the next few years there will be amazing job opportunities for graduates of these courses.”

Emma Bidgood studied interior design at Teesside before returning to study the MOBIE MSc Advanced Home Futures. After initially working in disability access when she completed her undergraduate degree, Emma realised she wanted her designs to make a difference.

She said: “Working in disability access opened my eyes to the bigger picture and the real world. In that time I realised that I want to design, but I want to design something that means so much more. I want to use my skillset to help people and I want to be part of something that recognises issues and is doing something about it. As soon as I saw this course, I knew it was everything I wanted.

“It’s fantastic to have someone in the public eye like George Clarke recognising this issue and taking an interest. As soon as I found out about this course, I knew this would be a way for me to make a difference.”

James Bishop, who studying MSc Advanced Home Futures part-time alongside working as an Architectural Technician, returned to study to develop his design skills further.

“I have been working since I graduated in 2014, but I felt I was lacking a bit of creativity. I felt that by studying the MSc that I could further my work,” James explained.

“At Teesside, you’re very much told to think outside the box. You can become pigeon-holed as a designer, but here we are encouraged to think independently and creatively. The main thing that appealed to me is that MOBIE looks to the future and looks at what we can do differently.”

During his visit to Teesside University, George also helped to judge and announce the overall winners of the Campus Design Challenge and he worked alongside the MSc students to help the young finalists develop their ideas.

Almost 60 entries were received for the competition and three national winners were chosen to visit Teesside University and spend the day working alongside George and other experts from the industry.

The national winners in each category were:
· Age 11 – 14 – Western Favell Academy from Northampton
· Age 14 – 16 – Heathcote School from Chingford
· Age 16 – 18 – King Ecgbert School from Sheffield.

Mark Southgate, the new Chief Executive of MOBIE, said: “MOBIE is about changing housing and changing lives. It’s about changing the way we do things. We had a good range of high quality entries and the judges had a very hard time deciding on the national winners.”

George added: “The work has been outstanding, especially from those who are still so young. What’s great about MOBIE is once we’ve set the brief and set level of aspiration and inspiration to do something magical, the students just step up every time. That’s what MOBIE is about. It’s about testing conventional thinking, pushing the boundaries of creative design, pushing it to the next level and getting students to think outside the box in a more creative way.”