Explore: Mansion House

Year | 2015
Location | Doncaster, UK
Client | Friends of the Mansion House & Doncaster Civic Trust

The Explore: Mansion House live project team worked over a 6 week period to engage with our client, locals and schools in order to re-enliven the Grade 1 Listed Mansion House in Doncaster as an educational gateway into Doncaster’s architectural history.

The initial brief envisaged an outcome that would promote the use of the Mansion House as an educational resource for all sections of the community, especially children, within a wider aim to engage locals with the building, following the Council’s departure in 2012. Doncaster Mansion House is one of only three in the UK; and therefore has a rich architectural and social history. This live project focused on providing an educational pack for primary school children, which explored the Mansion House, within a wider context. It provided both downloadable and physical resources, to enable children to learn about the building. The project also suggested exciting proposals for the future, demonstrating how the current pack might be expanded and a programme of events and strategies might positively influence the legacy of the Mansion House.

We learnt how to distil the complexity of an historic building into a readily accessible resource for children and the wider public, and how to disseminate this information, through the internet and personal networking.

We explored key aspects of the surrounding area in order to understand the context of the building, its significance within the town, and the potential activation of dormant spaces within Doncaster for advertisement and promotion.

We then engaged with locals during a Mansion House Open Day, in order to understand their views and knowledge of the building and the political context. This included boards for engagement and placards which we took around the town. The team gained experience in the client liaison and consultation.

The educational pack was themed around 4 key areas: Make, Play, Draw and Exhibit. The tasks were designed with reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy, developed with teachers, and piloted at Woodfield Primary School. The different activities are part of a coherent structure, in which different tasks are linked and learning is consolidated through these relationships.

‘Make’, for example, encourages spatial awareness and teaches the basics in Palladian Style architecture: symmetry, column types and Palladian elements. Skills in constructing, spatial understanding, creativity and teamwork are furthered.

The paper activity sheets are downloadable, removing the burden of printing and implementing the tasks from the client, and rather allowing schools to choose resources to use both within the classroom and the Mansion House itself. The project resulted in a website,, which presented the history of the building, and enabled these educational resources to be downloaded. Teacher’s notes are also available for each task, enabling them to be easily used within the classroom. The site also allows the client to advertise upcoming events, and for locals to join the Friends of the Mansion House.

This web resource was complemented by physical games for the Mansion House and a client document, explaining process, funding streams and detailing how the present education pack might lead into future activities, which can be carried out after the Live Project comes to a close. These form a broader legacy for the Mansion House, to encourage community engagement.

The project culminated in a handover meeting, which brought together the client, stakeholders and community in order to launch the educational pack.

Google Streetview interior tour of Mansion House

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