Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists

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Social and Community Challenge

As an extension of the Institute’s and its members’ sense of corporate and social responsibility, CIAT is delighted to launch a new members’ initiative; the Social and Community Challenge.

The project has been led by the Membership Group, which spends much of its time looking at membership retention, attracting new members and reviewing the package of benefits to members across all grades. However this initiative is different; this is an opportunity to put to good and positive use the collective knowledge and amassed wealth of experience within our Institute,  thereby enabling our members to give something back to provide benefit to their local and wider communities.                                                                

The concept
The premise of this challenge is that every other year members are invited to nominate a project for consideration. A nominated project will require a degree of specialist technical knowledge, research or design input with a social and community need. The nominations will then be submitted to the Challenge Panel for consideration and shortlisting, following which members will vote on the final project.

The successful project will then be launched with an outline brief developed in partnership with the representing client(s) and nominating member. All members will then be invited to volunteer their or their practice’s time, forming a specific project task force.

The aim is that in bringing together the diverse technical, research and design backgrounds which we have, this `one-off` design team can come up with tangible solutions to specific social and community issues.

The call for nominations will be in November 2015.

2014 Launch: Project Safe Garden
To launch the project we have selected a cause which is very close to the heart of the Membership Chair, Nicola Miller, as her three year old son Eddison is among the children and young adults who make up the community in need of our help.

Background information
Members are invited to work on a project to develop an affordable UV free shelter to allow children and young adults with the condition Xeroderma Pigmentosum to enjoy time outside without being exposed to UVA and UVB light, which is harmful to them.

Xeroderma Pigmentosum, or XP is an incurable autosomal recessive disorder of DNA repair, in which the ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light is deficient. For patients all exposure to daylight is forbidden, no matter how small. Unless protected, patients with XP suffer damage to their skin and eyes which manifest into skin cancers. Around 20-30% of sufferers also exhibit neurological symptoms which include loss of hearing, brain and sensory damage. This condition is extremely rare, affecting less than 100 people in the UK and less than 1000 worldwide.

Project brief
Volunteering CIAT members (individual or corporate) will form part of a Project Team in partnership with the Teddington Trust, The XP Support Group (UK) and the XP Clinic at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. It should be noted that the details and criteria of the project are set out at the start of the project and are outlined below. Any variations to the brief must be agreed by the Group.

The Teddington Trust has engaged with patients across the UK, Europe and America and has compiled the following criteria.

This space should have the feel of an outdoor environment but provide complete blocking of ultraviolet light, allowing children who suffer from XP to play without the need for restrictive sun protective clothing. A safe garden space will allow these children the simple pleasures of playing with sand, water and gardening without gloves and visor, and enjoy activities such as swinging, sliding and climbing. It is also a place where children can enjoy time outside of the confines of their homes with their peers and family. The designs by CIAT members, (individual or corporate), are not intended for use at any specific site. The organisation making use of the design will be required to ensure suitability and appropriate insurance.

The following key criteria should be considered:

  • Provision of complete protection from UVA and UVB.
  • Transparency to give the perception of being outside.
  • Options to provide shelter from direct sunlight (many patients are photophobic i.e. experience discomfort from bright light).
  • Space should reflect the external temperature to allow perception of the outside environment but with the ability to regulate temperature to prevent overheating and allow air flow.
  • Capable of being adapted to suit different floor areas and locations (for varying activities and sites).
  • Strong enough to withstand ball games.
  • Activities within might include ball games, sand pit, garden play equipment, flower beds, paddling pool, picnics, reading, painting etc.
  • Development of a semi-permeate solution for application at home, nursery, schools etc, and a lightweight portable alternative for travel.
  • Provision of power.
  • Planning exempt/planning friendly.
  • Affordable/low cost.

This project will require innovative design ideas with consideration of specialist materials, in particular, photo-protective products and modular technologies.

Get involved...
If you would like to get involved in this project, which is a first for the Institute and stands to benefit an extremely restricted and special group of children and young adults then please get in touch.

An initial ‘project start' meeting will be held at Central Office following which the newly formed Project Team will meet at suitable locations.

Designs will be disseminated within the global XP community as well as other groups, to reflect other applications/possibilities; and will be widely publicised within AT magazine and other industry media with recognition of participating members/practices. Participants will also have their involvement recognised at the annual CIAT Awards presentation event, with further promotional opportunities on successful outcome.

Participants are invited from all grades of membership.

Expenses will be paid for attending an initial meeting but following that members are expected to donate their time and costs, in the spirit of the initiative and its aims. To request further detailed information or express your interest please contact James Banks, Membership Director at

A video of the client brief can be viewed at This has been produced by the client/s and not CIAT.

To discuss the brief/criteria please contact Nicola Miller at

The member (individual or corporate) agrees that its participation in the project is at their sole risk as an individual or corporate. To the fullest extent permitted by law CIAT excludes all representations, conditions, warranties and other terms.

CIAT excludes all liability or responsibility for any loss or damage that may result to the individual or corporate CIAT member or any third party (including but not limited to any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage, whether in Tort, in Contract or otherwise).

CIAT does not accept any liability in respect of designs or design solutions generated or information given by the individual or corporate CIAT member.

CIAT will not be responsible for any failure of an individual or corporate CIAT member to perform, or any delay in the performance of its obligations in connection with the project.

CIAT reserves the right to publicise material.

The obligations within the Institute’s Code of Conduct continue to apply.

For more information on Xeroderma Pigmentosum: or visit facebook@ XP Support Group or visit facebook @ Teddington Trust

To read more on the daily issues of living with XP and how this project has the potential to benefit their lives go to

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