I Design!

Where: Mandeville Primary School
When: March 2018
Topic: Design & Innovation
Year group: Yr 3 & Yr 4

Commissioned by:


  #idesignMDV on Instagram

  #idesignMDV on Instagram

  #idesignMDV on Instagram

‘I DESIGN!’ – Exhibition 2

Year 3 & 4 : Body proportions and architecture

Children between the ages of 4 – 11 spend 190 days of the year, more than half of each year in primary school. We wanted to find out more about Mandeville pupil’s perception of and interaction with their school building and show these findings in a colourful, visual way.

Working with years 3 & 4, we gathered personal and physical information about pupils such as their age, height and heart rate before and after break. We asked them to make video recordings of routes around the building at different times of day and to note how busy or quiet the building was across the daily routine.

Pupils recorded the number of footsteps it took to complete the same journeys. Their findings showed that the personal experiences of pupils varied significantly. Routes with longer distances took surprisingly fewer footsteps than shorter distances for different pupils.

Considering averages, we looked back in history to a time when the body was used as an instrument for measurement. In 1490, Leonardo da Vinci produced an ink drawing showing the ideal human proportions of man according to the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. The drawing is science illustrated, representing the mathematics and geometry of the human form.

Pupils collectively drew out their own research, marking the span of their arms and legs outstretched in permanent pen on canvas. They recorded the dimensions of classical body units such as the cubit (elbow to top of the middle finger), the hand span (thumb to the little finger outstretched) and the palm (four fingers together).

We went on to create artworks using the body’s physical proportions as a template for shape and scale. We used origami and stencil making to reflect on geometry and symmetry. The character and personality of the children along with their varying physical proportions is captured in the artworks through mark making and colour.

The results across all of our research hi-light the extent of diversity and breadth of variation amongst individuals between the ages of 7 – 9. The unpredictability of pupil’s experiences showed how much valuable information would have been lost in seeking to define averages – Recognising this proved to be the defining aspect of the research.

Art Educator: Claire Ward Thornton
Art Educator: Sadie Edginton / Johanna Valeur

Download Leaflet in PDF: Leaflet-I-Design-AH

Image gallery

Images of the ‘I DESIGN!’ exhibition panels over 4 floors of Mandeville School building including children’s artworks. Photos: Pau Ros

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Stats about this project

  • Drawing 60% 60%
  • Origami 20% 20%
  • stencil making / printmaking 20% 20%

Applied art disciplines

Number of participants