Blue Peter competition engages young people with the past and inspires architects of the future

Blue Peter competition engages young people with the past and inspires architects of the future

Blue Peter has launched an exciting design competition inviting viewers to design a dragon for the Great Pagoda at Kew, one of the most important conservation projects within the UK, if not Europe.

Conservation architects at Austin-Smith:Lord have been working with Historic Royal Palaces on the fascinating two year project to restore the famous Great Pagoda in the Royal Botanic Gardens to its 18th century splendour.

A major element of the project is the reintroduction of the eighty decorative dragons missing from the 50 metre high structure for over two hundred years.

Designed at the height of the eighteenth century craze for Chinoiserie, the eye-catching dragons festooning each of the ten storeys of the Pagoda were the talk of the town for twenty years before disappearing, some say in payment for the Prince Regent’s gambling debts.

All of the new dragons will be based on a similar design with one very special exception: one dragon will be designed by a lucky Blue Peter viewer.

Viewers aged between 6 and 15 years have between now and Thursday 25 May to enter the competition by creating a brand new dragon design for the Great Pagoda.

Entrants will have to think creatively to design a dragon, give it a name and a super power.

The winning design will then be fabricated into a full scale dragon which will be on show on the Great Pagoda for all to see for a full year after the iconic attraction reopens in Spring 2018.

John Barnes, Conservation and Learning Director, Historic Royal Palaces says: “We’re hoping that lots of budding designers will get involved with the restoration of the Great Pagoda because of this exciting competition. As the people who look after some of the most important buildings in Britain we hope that it will inspire the next generation, who will be the ones caring for the Palaces in the future.”

David Millar, Director and Head of Conservation at Austin-Smith:Lord, adds: This is a wonderful, once in a lifetime opportunity for young people aspiring to become an architect or pursue a career in design. The Great Pagoda is an exceptionally important building, which is today recognised as a masterpiece of 18th century English architecture and one of the jewels in the crown of Georgian London. It also promises to be a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to seeing some amazing mythical creatures as the young people fire their imagination!”

Cressida Cowell, judge and author “How To Train Your Dragon” says: “I’m delighted to be a judge for this competition. When I was nine I won a national writing competition and it made me realise for the first time that I could be a writer. It was incredibly inspiring! I can’t wait to see the dragon designs with the aim of inspiring a new generation into the design and creative industries.”

Ewan Vinnicombe, Editor of Blue Peter concludes: “Blue Peter is excited to be part of this landmark restoration giving viewers the once in a lifetime opportunity to design a feature on an historic royal building. I know the viewers will be very creative as always.”

Application to the Blue Peter competition, which closes on Thursday 25th May at 12noon, can be made online at where full terms and conditions are also available.