Architectural educators worked with eight to 11 year olds as part of a community outreach programme at local theatre

Architecture educators Matt + Fiona have helped a group of primary school children build a temporary performance space in Brixton.

The social enterprise practice, in collaboration with Jestico & Whiles and Buro Happold, worked with a cohort of eight to 11 year olds on a crowd-funded community outreach project at the newly opened Brixton House theatre.

The colourful timber and plywood structure will stay at the theatre until the end of April and will be made available to local youth groups and schools for performances and activities.

Brixton House

Brixton House

Matt + Fiona was founded six years ago and specialises in projects which encourage young people to question how their built environment can be improved and how it can empower them.

For the Brixton project, the children set the brief for the performance structure, designed it and built it with support from Matt + Fiona and a group of more than 60 volunteers.

During five days of workshops, the children learned how to measure and cut timber, create complex frame structures and work collaboratively.

> Also read: Kew Gardens lines up Matt + Fiona for treehouses project

The project was funded by 145 backers, a pledge from the mayor of London’s Crowdfund London campaign, and a grant from the Co-operative Foundation.

The initial programme began in 2019 when 20 children from four local primary schools determined an early brief and began designing the space. 

Delayed by the pandemic, the baton was handed over in 2022 to a second cohort of children from the same schools, who developed the original concepts and worked them up to a technical resolution.

Matt + Fiona said the project had particular importance in nurturing the creativity and rebuilding the confidence of young people following the pandemic, when children faced severe levels of loneliness and isolation.

Practice co-founders Matthew Springett and Fiona MacDonald said: “Their vision for the space and its contribution to their community has been unwavering throughout. It will be a testament to their perseverance, resilience and creativity, skills we need now more than ever. We hope that projects like this will become far more commonplace for schools across the UK.”

Delia Barker, managing director of Brixton House, added: “Everyone involved has stayed committed to supporting young Brixton residents over the lifetime of the project and it’s thrilling to get the build to this point. 

“We are so pleased that they will finally get to see, feel and explore their work. Encouraging children to imagine spaces is a great way to engage creatively with young people.”

Other Matt + Fiona projects include this year’s Treehouses at Kew event, which will see the practice work with year-five children to create a treehouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens based on the theme of “the power of trees”.