ArcSoc Pavilion Show 2019

ArcSoc Pavilion is the Unversity of Cambridge Architecture Society's live-build project team which designs and produces an annual build for community events and public spaces.   The ArcSoc Summer Show features a partnership project with Historyworks in 2019. . To find out more about the design brief from HistoryWorks and the fantastic result delivered by ArcSoc Pavillion read on below and see the photos of youngsters enjoying the build!  To read more about the ArcSoc summer show in London this year go to:


This academic year 2018/2019 HistoryWorks were very thrilled to team up with ArcSoc for co-creating a mobile set of modular staging whch also had the dual purposes to be used as Arts & Crafts portable play boxes with accompanying rubber mats.   Scarlett Barclay led the project for ArcSoc & her attention to detail meant that the end produce was a great fit for purpose, and big thanks also go to Eden and the other members of ArcSoc Pavilion. 

This modular staging is for youngsters to use with our pop up choir events and for Historyworks to take for our workshops in the play parks and meadows in Cambridge, especially designed as a multi-purpose box stage to use when HistoryWorks is delivering the Chisholm Trail project around the Leper Chaepl with outdoor events at Coldham's Common and the Stourbridge Fair meadows by the River Cam, illustrated wih icons telling local stories and supporting our Primary School Events & Choirs, Abbey People & Abbey Youth Group for Arts events.




The brief from HistoryWorks was to have a portable stage for outdoor events which would be safe and moveable for young children to use for performances.  We also wanted the modular stage to double-up as portable boxes for carrying Arts kit to workshops, so that the stage elements could also be used as seats and for outdoor surfaces for outdoor Art workshops with youngsters.


With Scarlett Barclay leading on delivering the brief and the build, Helen Weinstein of HistoryWorks showed Scarlett the grassy performance area in front of the Leper Chapel, the main play parks around Abbey, and the softer ground in the former Stoubridge Fair ground meadows and Coldham's Common. At all these spaces, Scarlett Barclay looked carefully at the terrain, luckily flat, but thought about the weight of the boxes both to be sufficiently sturdy for children to stand and jump up on them, and also to be light enough to be carried out into the meadows, and down the steep steps at the Leper Chapel.   At Historyworks we were very impressed with this attention to detail and putting the needs of the youngsters, the users, at the forefront. Here is a picture showing Scarlett Barclay of ArcSoc Pavilion surveying the Leper Chapel area back in December 2018.


Helen Weinstein, Director of HistoryWorks, was delighted with the build and says "It is a brilliant design. The modular staging is indeed both sturdy and easy to carry!  What is really clever too is that there are a set of pipes that thread through the boxes to make the stage extra sturdy for a performance, which also double-up as instruments and make amazing low tones like a digeree-do which the youngsters enjoying blowing into!!  


In addition, there is accompanying rubber matting which comes with a set of sturdy tent pegs, easy to carry in a series of rolled matting with ties, which shows how carefully ArcSoc Pavilion listened to the brief, because these accompanying matts are for an audience of children and families to sit on the grass at performance events, which can also be used to lean on during Art workshops for drawing, painting, claywork.  We could not be more delighted with the ArcSoc design and delivery of this brief, making a super useful portable set of stage boxes and mats for an audience to sit on which also doubes-up as a facility for delivering popup art workshops. 



The youngsters who are members of the local school choir which Historyworks leads in the community hugely enjoyed posing on the boxes and practising their singing and moves.  They found the boxes easy to move and to construct into shapes which suit their different numbes for the summer show.  

We also piloted using the boxes and matts with Abbey Youth Group, taking them for an outdoor popup Arts event where the young people could fully engage in an Arts Workshop because they had the solid rubber matting to make it not only comfortable to sit outdoors but also gave them a good surface to lean on for drawing.   Hilary Cox Condron, local artist and community leader involved with Abbey People says "The young people absolutely adore the playbox staging and matting from ArcSoc Pavilion.  They are also very pleased that students at the University would want to make them something so special and this really made them happy because the University can seem very remote to school children in their daily lives, (especially in Abbey Ward where there are very high levels of deprivation) and so making a connection around play and seeing what students can create, was a wonder to them.  



ArcSoc Pavilion handed over the boxes with no decoration, because their idea was that the young people would enjoy painting their own illustrations.  Helen Weinstein says "However, the quality was so high that they did not want to sponge paint the sides of the boxes incase they no longer looked neat and tidy.  All the kids liked the 'lego' tops which are comfortable to sit on and hold the children well if it is wet and they stand on the boxes.  So enticting the children to paint the boxes led to a request that the icons we had made for the Chisholm Trail be used to decorate the modular stage boxing and that Scarlett and Eden use the pictures the children chose, of the Leper Chapel and the Scallop Shell, the Butterflies and Cows of the Commons, the Footballer and Runner, the Eagle Engine and the Pterosaur to represent the songs Historyworks has been singing in choir with them about the local history.  The children were absolutely delighted with the decoration, and that these were playfully applied!"




The Abbey Youth Group members look forward to using the modular boxes at events over the summer, when there will be a variety of popup arts events in the parks and meadows.   Claire Nichols, from ChYpPS (Childrens and Young Peoples Participation Service at the City Council) who is also the lead youth worker  of Abbey People Youth Group says  "We showed them how the ArcSoc team had carefully sanded all the surfaces by hand so that they would not hurt themselves whilst carrying the boxes, so what they saw initially as a set of playboxes for carrying arts and crafts materials out to the park, could then be turned over and made into a stage, was an introduction to modular design that impressed them hugely. What was funny was that they had such delight with the gift of the modular staging that they dispersed the boxes to use them for a playpark game of off ground tig and played very happily until it was time to go home. Abbey Youth Group members had such a happy time with this fab new design!"


'It has been wonderful collaborating with HistoryWorks. We are hopeful that this contribution by ArcSoc will enable them to continue and expand their work to reach more young people. We would like to thank all those in the University Architcture Department who helped build the staging, Polyflor who kindly provided the colourful rubber flooring and Helen Weinstein of HistoryWorks for showing us Abbey Ward and their work in the area with schools, youth groups, and choirs. We can only hope that the young people enjoy the staging as much as we enjoyed building it'  University of Cambridge Architecture Society (ArcSoc) Pavilion Team
The University of Cambridge Architecture Society (ArcSoc) is a student-run, self-funded society which coordinates an annual live-build project known as ArcSoc Pavilion. This year the project was in collaboration with HistoryWorks to design a modular stage/seating system and matting staging.'

To find out more about ArcSoc Pavilion go to



ArcSoc 2019