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Engineering Students Work on Architecture with Professional Artist Tim Denton

By 6th April 2020 No Comments

University Centre at Blackburn College Engineering students enjoyed the unique experience of working with professional designer/maker Tim Denton on a special architectural project.

Spending a day in one of the College’s impressive workshop facilities, and working to ambitious scale, the group developed imposing structures that not only had physical presence, but structural integrity.

The rudimentary materials of cardboard, plywood and cable-ties, and their individual strengths and weaknesses, were combined to create large scale outcomes that will in turn inform the next stage.

Caroline Bracewell, Head of School for Business, Health and Technology, said: “Learning experiences are enhanced by contact with professionals like Tim Denton. The unique approach he takes to his work means that he is open to the ideas of other industries and here at the college he did exactly that.

“The students really bought into the project and it gave them valuable experience to add to their portfolio of assessments.”

A specialist in developing purposeful, temporary interior and public realm-based structures, Tim said: “We asked the questions – what would a creative space for Blackburn look like? Where would its references come from? And what would be specific about it that would make it engrained in Blackburn culture?

“Last June we created over 300 drawings of imagined architecture with children and adults, all created from stencils that were traced directly from architectural features found around Blackburn. By starting with forms taken from Blackburn, all of the designs are certain to relate to Blackburn in some way.

“The results were an eclectic mix of ‘blueprints’ that we went on to inspire the next stage, which was this recent collaboration with mechanical and engineering students from Blackburn College to translate these designs into physical full-size models.”

Elena Jackson, Co-Director of The National Festival of Making and curator of Art In Manufacturing, said: “The exchange of skills, experience and knowledge sits at the heart of Art In Manufacturing, connecting artists with makers and manufacturers of diverse career stages and disciplines.

“Shared experience of the type Tim and Blackburn College’s students enjoyed can not only develop unexpected results, but a shared understanding and new perspectives. We’re pleased to have seen such a vibrantly creative session take place.”

Iain Crabtree, Managing Director of Lancaster’s OEP Building Services, the manufacturer which has engaged with Tim and The National Festival of Making on his Art In Manufacturing commission, added: “We’re excited to work together with Tim Denton Studio. We’re combining Tim’s exceptional ability to create crafted furniture, objects and structures with our factories’ capacity in construction and industrial making.

“Tim also brings a unique method of making, co-designing with Blackburn College students who are studying electrical and mechanical engineering; these are subjects that often lead to working in manufacturing industries and hopefully one day at OEP.”

The National Festival of Making, including the outcomes of 2020’s Art In Manufacturing commissions, has been postponed from its original date in June 2020. For updates on projects continuing this year and updates on a new date for the festival, visit

To find out more about Blackburn College, the University Centre at Blackburn College and all the courses available, please visit