Department of
Architecture and Built Environment

About the design+build studio


Usually, the students in the design+build studio will go out on site to deliver a live build project. In previous years, this has taken place in South Africa, or Nottingham. Our aim is to deliver a live build experience to those students who opt for the design+build Studio. However, we cannot guarantee that a cohort will be able to work on site every year due to travel restrictions, or site availability.

Creche Initiative

About the design+build studio

A typical programme for a live build project has begun with our students working on a collaborative design exercise, spending the Autumn semester designing the building. Students fundraise over the Winter and Spring to support the project, and we then travel to site, either in the UK or overseas with the project being built over Easter break.

Over a period of more than ten years the design+build studio has delivered nine creche project in South Africa. The impact is seven community water-points and more than £500,000 of direct investment. More than 500 architecture students have had an international build expierence as part of their education, and more than 2500 children have attended Early Childhood Education in a creche built by the studio.


The design+build studio adopts a holistic approach to making the built environment. We undertake projects that generate learning experiences for our students that cover the entire spectrum of architectural projects from client meetings and design through to construction.


  • Over 300 young designers have taken part in the design build studio
  • Over 2,000 South African Children have had Early Childhood Development in a crèche built by the design+build studio
  • Over £500,000 has been raised by our students to support these projects

About the design+build studio 2

 “The students work incredibly hard on these projects and their fundraising campaigns to enable them to travel out to Africa and build these new developments.  This is a great practical opportunity for them to give something to people less advantaged than themselves.  They are creating something of real value for people.  It is a real motivation for them and also a great social and cultural experience.  Our students are designing and building schools which will transform the lives of hundreds of children and their community for many years to come.”

Professor Tim Heath
Creche initiative founder


“When I started at architecture school I didn't know what kind of architect I wanted to be.  The project in South Africa taught me about making and materials, forming the foundation of my approach to design.  The lessons you learn through designing and building a building are fundamental to being a good architect and I often think back to my time on site when scratching my head in the office.

Experience of this project has raised my awareness for ethical and environmental design issues, and has helped me look for and secure work in the type of practice which responds to these issues.  The creche I helped build has been the front cover of my CV for the last 8 years and will remain there for a long time to come”

Sam Diston
Design+build studio alumni, ARB




Department of Architecture and Built Environment

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 14184