Build Our Nation

In 2011 Tesseract was involved in developing, recording, and participating in the first stages of a workshop program called Build Our Nation, a series of design esquisses and workshops involving students from four different European universities, centered around designing and building a women’s community centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The concept from the start was how we could creatively excite and engage students in our University with humanitarian issues and the idea of building in the developing world, and so we faced a lot of issues in how a large group of people can participate constructively in something, even across vast geographies. The first workshop was held in April 2012, and although hosted from Aberdeen a total of over 200 students participated from universities in Reus, Barcelona and Milan. No one had to travel either, because the workshop was run over skype throughout the day, and there was a blog which all the teams participating were asked to post something on at least once every hour.

The result was an intense, vibrant atmosphere- lectures and presentations were broadcast throughout the day from students at each university, and the blog was open on everyone’s laptops as it was constantly moving with a flow of ideas, research and design ideas contributed by everyone. In this way after only a day we had a couple of dozen informed and developed design ideas from all the teams taking part, since all the students had a format to effectively share and feed off each other’s progress.

This led on to the second workshop, which took place in Lecco, outside Milan. The three-day event involved delegates from each of the universities involved mixing in new teams and developing new designs as well as presenting and discussing their own research into related topics.

The project has now run 4 collaborative workshops, including a live workshop in the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, Common Ground. You can read first-hand about the project at


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