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Beyond “Future-proof� The implications of social, technical and pedagogical change for the architecture of UK secondary schools. Matthew Cooper Darwin College

This dissertation is submitted for the degree of Master of Philosophy 15911 words

Acknowledgements I would like to express my gratitude to the following people for making available their support and guidance, without which this thesis would not have been possible:

Professor Alan Short Dr. Catherine Burke Ingrid Schrรถder Joris Fach Keri Facer Kevin Fellingham

I would also like to thank those closest to me for their unwavering support during my time at Cambridge

This dissertation is the result of my own work and includes nothing which is the outcome of work done in collaboration except where specifically indicated in the text.









Location: Swindon


Social & technical change


Spatialising pedagogy


- Part 1: Background


- Part 2: Design Proposal


Pedagogical Urbanism


Institutional porosity








abstract Beyond ‘Future-proof’: The implications of social, technical and pedagogical change for the architecture of UK secondary schools.

Emerging social and technical trends show the potential to intensify already radical social and economic inequality over the next 20 years. As one of the final public services remaining, schools hold both the responsibility and the capacity to help mediate the effect of these developments in favour of fairness and democracy. Conjoined with recent developments in pedagogy, these trends call for a reconsideration of many aspects of our education system in coming years, from the way they are organised spatially, to who uses the school and when. In recent years, uncertainty about what the future holds for education has led schools and school architecture to retreat into a commitment to adaptability and openness to change in an attempt to ‘future-proof’ themselves against social, technical and pedagogical trends. Through the design of a new secondary school for Swindon, this thesis re-connects educational theory with school architecture to introduce an alternative vision that addresses these issues forthright. The design proposes a new model for the spatial organisation of learning space and re-imagines the school as a public space, open to all; a school that is a porous and integrated component of the urban, social and economic landscape.



Fig. 0.1


1 8



‘If popular education be worth it’s great price, its houses deserve something more than a passing thought. School-houses are henceforth to take rank as public buildings, and should be planned and built in a manner befitting their new identity’ Edward R. Robson (1874) Cited in Burke & Grosvenor (2008).


The architecture of secondary schools needs to look beyond the current model of education and consider the ways in which the pupils of the future will learn. This thesis brings recent educational theory to the forefront of secondary school architecture and investigates how design can compliment a vision for future learning. Architects have been fascinated by the translation of educational theory into environments for learning since the birth of mass education. English architect E. R. Robson produced an extensive handbook in 1874 that “tells of the spatial dimensions of educational thought” (Burke and Grosvenor, 2008, p. 42). In 1939, Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry completed their community college in Cambridgeshire, which was open to the public in the evenings; in the 1950s and ‘60s, Scharoun’s organic schools in Germany and David and Mary Medd’s open-plan primary schools, emerged as a result of more child-centred educational philosophies; and in the ‘70s, the idea of community inclusion was revived and open-plan models extended to some comprehensive secondary schools. In recent years a clear educational manifesto has neglected to inform widespread UK school architecture. This could be for a number of reasons, not least the restrictive nature of recent procurement or bureaucratization of the teaching profession that has constrained pedagogical creativity (Burke and Grosvenor, p. 154). Either way, the result was that schools constructed within the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme typically attempted to ‘futureproof’ themselves by incorporating a commitment to “flexibility” and “long-term adaptability” (DfES, 2004b, p. 5). It has been said that this apologetic approach to school design, which braces itself for the future rather than actively engaging in defining it “provides no basis for optimism, no resources for the imagination and no impetus for change” (Facer, 2011, p. 104). BSF sought to “transform” (Rudd, 2008, p. 5) education through its architecture, yet lacked the “clarity” (Davies 2011, p. 5) of pedagogical vision to underpin it. The current coalition government’s free-school movement marks a key step in plans to decentralise decision making from local education authorities (LEAs) to individual schools in light of their Big Society agenda. This shift offers exciting opportunities for emerging pedagogic theory to filter into the education system and presents new possibilities for architects to make a significant contribution to the realisation of new educational visions in built form. There is currently no “robust research base” connecting contemporary educational theory with its architectural setting (Higgins et al 2005, p. 3). The majority of existing research tends to focus on physical conditions such as heating, ventilation and light and does not address the relationship between educational practice and space (Gislason, 2009, p. 1). Moreover, this type of research usually relates to traditional teaching practices in “one-sizefits-all” institutions, rather than alternative approaches that attempt to meet the “changing needs of learning in the 21st century” (Higgins et al, 2005, p. 3). Educational theorists, such


Fig. 1.1: No basis for optimism?


as Higgins et al (2005), Burke and Grosvenor (2008) and Heppel et al (2006) call for a more direct relationship between architecture and education. This thesis seeks to address this need by examining current educational thought in a design context. Exciting research in the field of education offers new directions for the architecture of schools and is described here within two threads: The first relates to emerging social and technical trends, investigating how these might affect teaching and learning practice and the operation and responsibilities of the school. The second relates to our understanding of how to foster more effective learning and the consequences this has for the requirements of space. The thesis interprets the principles set out in the recent and comprehensive research programme Beyond Current Horizons (BCH) (Futurelab, 2009) and the book Learning Futures: Education, technology and social change (Facer, 2011), to develop a new model for school architecture. BCH brings to the fore a complex interconnection of emerging social and technical trends, drawing attention to the potentially profound implications that they might have for our education system. Learning Futures constructs an argument for “rethinking” the role of education to prevent these developments from exacerbating already radical inequality and environmental destruction. BCH is not alone in raising this concern (See for example: Heppell (Ed.), 2004, p. 8-11; DfES, 2002, p. 8 or DfES, 2006, p. 9), but is the first piece of research to fully elucidate what the issues are and how they might affect education, so this thesis will utilise it for framing the first of the two threads. Published in 2009, BCH came too late to influence the architecture of the BSF programme, so its findings have not yet been brought into a design context. To an extent, the thesis is a direct response to the BCH programme and Learning Futures. It provides a unique contribution to current discourse by bringing them into an architectural context and offering a glimpse of the ways that school architecture may be affected by the changing needs of society in the 21st century. Meanwhile, recent trends in teaching and learning practice have emerged that involve much greater diversity of learning activities and a shift towards a much more individual-centred approach to education (see for example Dudek, 2007; Nair and Fielding, 2009; or DfES, 2006). There are of course other possible directions for the future of education, but it is not within the scope of this thesis to describe these, nor make arguments for or against them. Notably though, the pedagogical vision outlined here contrasts traditional or ‘essentialist’ philosophies of education that are predicated on teaching basic skills and academic subjects in a standardised manor (Maya, 2007). This thesis does not argue that there is no place in the future for traditional modes of education or school designs, but that some schools may wish to seek alternative strategies for responding to social and technical change and an architecture that supports those aims.

Both threads of the research imply a reconsideration of aspects of the education system that could have profound implications for school architecture. In particular, two major departures from the prototypical school have emerged: The first is that the school should no longer be a learning environment exclusively for children, instead becoming more integrated with the lifeblood of the town and inclusive of all members of the community. Secondly, the cellular classroom is challenged as a model for delivering fair and effective education under the proposed changes, creating a need for an alternative spatial organization better aligned with current educational thought. This thesis seeks to go beyond ‘future-proof’, which is to address emerging social, technical and pedagogical change in designing a school that acts as a platform for communities to steer their own futures (Facer, 2011, p. 9). This is not a modern concept; schools have historically pioneered social values and should continue to do so (Baker, 2009, p. 7). ‘Futureproofing’ school design is not enough. Current thought calls for a progressive school building that becomes for every pupil a ‘future-building’ school, and that projects outwardly the values on which it is built (Facer, 2011, p. 105).




The thesis proposes that a school designed to facilitate public engagement in its everyday use and that responds to contemporary pedagogic thought rather than maintain the status quo, will provide a stronger platform to help individuals and communities to thrive throughout the 21st century and work together towards fairer, more democratic and sustainable futures. It makes this case through an understanding of relevant educational theory wrought by review of recent academic and policy literature, attendance of the Learning Without Frontiers 2012 Conference, and conversations with leading educational theorists. Keri Facer, author of Learning Futures and leader of Futurelab’s partnership of the BCH programme, was interviewed twice for the purpose of this thesis: the first to develop a brief for the design of the school and the second as a review of the design at an interim stage in its development. This foundation is built upon to draw an understanding of the ways in which the architecture of schools might change to support a new educational vision. By positioning itself within the widening gap between educational research and school design, this thesis provides a new vision for secondary school architecture fit for the 21st century. The architectural implications of the research have been tested through the design of a secondary school on a site in Swindon. The design offers a strategy by which the school might integrate itself with the town in its architecture and in which it can create an atmosphere of inclusion, whilst maintaining a secure environment. In synergy with this, it offers a model for an alternative spatial composition for the school that is aligned with the vision for delivering education. It is acknowledged that there is any number of ways to approach this problem. This thesis therefore does not seek to propose a definitive solution but to offer one suggestion that could act as a stimulus for a conversation between educators and architects about developing strategies for a spatial translation of educational theory. Following a brief description of the proposal and an introduction to the chosen site, the thesis will begin by outlining the most fundamental findings of recent social and technical change research, primarily from the BCH programme and Learning Futures, summarizing the implications these pose for school architecture. It will then describe current pedagogical theory, connecting this with spatial requirements, before bringing the research together as a design proposition. The proposition will be presented in its response to the research, focusing on three topics: the relationship between pedagogy and space; the relationship between the school and the town; and the relationship between public and private space. It will finish by bringing these components together and summarizing the key findings of the design exploration.


Fig. 1.2

“this divorce of architecture from learning must end.� Heppel et al, 2004, p. 26


Fig. 1.3: Proposal: The school as an integrated part of the town and as a public building. View of approach from west.


Diagrammatic description of scheme 18

The scheme is organized as a series of nodes at a range of scales, bound by fluid, open space. Each of these nodes operates as an educational resource at its appropriate scale. At the urban scale, the school itself is one of many educational nodes that form a network across the town (see, for example, Heppel et al, 2004, p. 35). This network includes Swindon’s other schools and colleges, but also it’s wider educational resources, such as the central library, museums, leisure facilities and public space. It also includes a network of local businesses and trades, charities and community groups and the many major international businesses.

Proposal Schools Charities Academic/research institutions Employers Leisure facilities

Fig. 1.4: Site plan showing network of urban educational nodes



The building itself is described as a single form that has been carved out to create a central square and grand passageways


that re-connect the town across the railway. This breaks the


form into a series of fragments, but is still recognizable as

Retail/Council offices

a single whole. The fragments contain the school’s various uses: the core teaching and learning space of the school, where

Business enterprise

pupils spend most of their time; the theatre, with a public


foyer-café and evening restaurant; the library, a satellite to

Porosity of boundary

Swindon’s central library; and commercial space, let to the council, start-up businesses, and local retailers. Within these building fragments, the boundary between public and pupil areas has been articulated subtly, to create the sense of an inclusive, shared environment, whilst remaining secure for younger pupils. The school is a set of educational and urban nodes set around a new public square. At ground level, all sides of the square are open to public access. The ground floor of the school is a large social space designed to be flexible for a multitude of functions, such as temporary exhibitions or large public education workshops and serves as a foyer to the assembly hall and community-learning node (second floor). The ground floor of the theatre is a public foyercafé, an informal space for meeting, socializing or relaxing. The ground floor of the school library is a public library, providing free access to the Internet and to educational networks and digital resources. The south-east corner of the scheme is dedicated to retail and council services. It is lettable space owned by the school and will provide it with an income. The accommodation on the south-west corner provides below market-rate space for start-up businesses, in particular intended for use by pupils of the school. The whole southern edge of the scheme creates a frontage to the street of retail and businesses.

at ground level




Fig. 1.5: Porosity of boundary on all sides of public square at ground level.

Within the school, the space is organized as nodes and fluid space: an abstraction of the streets and squares of the urban environment. In contrast to the traditional cellular nature of school organization, this scheme proposes a range of spaces and environments that act as educational resources for different types of activity. These spaces are distinct in their spatial, material and environmental character to suit their specific purpose.

Programmatic Key Assembly / theatre Theatre foyer-cafe & restaurant Central social space Library Community & life-long learning


Laboratories head

Meeting rooms




Workshops lounge

Audio-visual rooms Pupil home-base


electronics lab

Lettable space 5 food lab

loose-fit space general sciences lab

Back-of-house/support materials lab


Indoor/outdoor gardens

Fig. 1.6: Organisation of ‘inner school’ as a series of nodes bound by loose-fit space.



Fig. 1.7: Exploded axonometric diagram


Fig. 1.8: Scheme set in context. Large openings in the building-form welcome the public. The school reconnects the north and south sides of the town.


2 26

location: Swindon



Swindon has been chosen as the location for the design investigation. In the early stages of the research, the brief for the ill-fated “Dyson School of Design Innovation” was adopted as a starting point for the exploration of the translation of pedagogical theory into a design proposal. Swindon was shortlisted for this scheme before Bath was chosen by James Dyson. Swindon’s rich history in innovation and engineering makes it an attractive location for such a school, alongside the fact that Swindon’s educational deprivation ratings, and its proportion of youths that are not in education, employment or training (NEET) (Swindon Borough Council, 2010, p. 3) is higher than national average, making it in need of investment. Although the programmatic brief for the design thesis has evolved in terms of the educational theory that underpins it, it is still loosely based on the one set out by Dyson, in particular in relation to two core factors: Firstly, that learners are more active in the process of their education. Learning is “hands-on” in that sense. Secondly, the school taking a focus on design innovation and engineering is appropriate for Swindon, as the town wishes to further expand its strong economic position in the science and technology sector (Swindon Borough Council, 2007b p. 11). Therefore, despite the changes to the brief, Swindon remains an appropriate location for this design exploration. Furthermore, Swindon makes a particularly rich testing ground for such explorations as it represents� a good ‘typical’ example of a UK urban environment. It is a town of 180,000 people, with a demographic representative of the UK average. Its town centre is suffering from the effects of suburban sprawl and is in need of regeneration. There are no secondary schools within walking distance of the centre. Successful schools draw families into their catchments and it is proposed that a high-profile school, serving as a major new public building and space near the centre of Swindon, would help to spark further investment in the area to counter the sprawl.


Fig. 2.1: UK location

Location Plan Scale 1:10000


Fig. 2.2.


Swindon’s existing schools


Swindon currently has 12 secondary schools and 2 post-16 colleges [Fig. 2.3]. The quality of secondary education in Swindon is below average: only 3 of the secondary schools performed better the national average for GCSE results (BBC, 2012) and none are in the UK top 25% (Swindon Borough Council, 2007b, p. 17). Aside from Swindon College (post-16) there are no secondary schools within easy walking distance of the town centre. Alongside the planned expansion of the population from 180,000 to 250,000 by 2025 (Swindon Borough Council, 2007b, p. 17), these facts present a significant opportunity to create a clear and fresh strategy for the future provision of secondary education within a re-densified urban centre.


Fig. 2.3.

Swindon: Characteristics


Fig. 2.4.


Retail complexes, business parks and sub-urban housing estates enforce the dominance of the car, resulting in a town characterised by roundabouts. Sprawl continues to have a negative impact on the town centre, which struggles to compete financially.



The town has a rich heritage in engineering that it could exploit to revitalise its character. On the edge of town, the industrial buildings are largely under-utilised or derelict.


Much of the town’s architecture is hard and cold, made worse by dereliction and poor maintenance. The town centre looks tired and unloved, but is undergoing major regeneration.


Site: Connections


The site is adjacent to the railway line, which acts as a barrier between the north and south sides of town. With the planned extension of the town to the north, the number and nature of connections across the lines will become more important. The proposal within this thesis provides an opportunity to greatly improve an existing pedestrian connection that is currently a long, dark subway. The Swindon Central Area Action Plan (Swindon Borough Council, 2007a p. 95-96 and 2007c) stipulates that any development on this site should positively address the issue of improving north-south connections, and should not obstruct the desired future reinstatement of the canal that once ran through the site. Whilst the masterplan and expansion of the town is not the focus of the thesis, nor the reinstatement or celebration of historical elements, it is appropriate to adhere to the planning conditions of the site, especially as they provide an opportunity for a positive contribution to the scheme.

Fig. 2.5: site connections, railway and proposed canal reinstatement.

Fig. 2.6: Swindon



Fig 2.7 & 2.8: Site panoramas


Fig. 2.9: Approach from heritage quarter




Fig. 2.10: Approach from train station




social & technical change



There is “growing concern” that the vision for education that has prevailed over the past two decades is “no longer robust” (Facer, 2011, p. 103) and that its focus on preparing pupils for the formal economy is too narrow. Current research suggests that emerging social and technical developments may present other major challenges for education and society for which we must prepare. If ignored, these developments could serve to intensify already “radical social and educational inequality and environmental degradation” (Facer, 2011, p. ix), as well as compromising the current vision’s ability to secure the future of the economy. This new thinking suggests that trends in areas such as employment, life-course and our relationship with knowledge and technology, might cause us to radically rethink almost everything about our education system, from the curriculum, to pedagogy, to who uses the school and when. Perhaps most fundamentally, it implies that schools could become much more integrated with their towns and communities and that there is a need to reconsider the way they are organised spatially. The extensive BCH programme examined emerging social and technical developments, the uncertainties in our understanding of them and the challenges and opportunities that they may bring for education and society. It was conducted as a partnership between the independent research organisation ‘Futurelab’ and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). The programme commissioned over 60 reviews of existing literature, alongside consultation with over 100 researchers and 1500 individuals, from pupils and parents to organisations and industry leaders (Futurelab, 2009, p. 9-10). The research was divided into 5 key areas and steered by a group of 18 experts from a range of fields, including: education, computing, neuroscience, philosophy, innovation, social justice, economics and geography [Fig. 3.2]. The critical findings of the 5 topics are summarised here and the chapter finishes by describing the implications that the research may have for the architecture of secondary schools.

“Education must change to enable us to cope with changes in society.” Building Bulletin 95, p.8


! !

Beyond Current Horizons Final Report

5 summary reports

Over 60 literature reviews commissioned for the programme, written by experts in each field

Fig. 3.2: Structure and scale of BCH programme

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Fig. 3.1

Knowledge and communication


Dr Carey Jewitt’s summary of the 20 literature reviews commissioned for this topic identifies a number of recurring themes and trends. Perhaps the most notable of these for education is “increasing ease of access to increasing amounts of information” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 1). The Internet and mobile devices have dramatically increased the amount of information that people have access to, where they can access it, and the ease with which it is accessed. For children, this provides a significant new educational resource outside of the school and family. This new relationship with information “expands the possibilities” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 2) for knowledge and communication but also alters the demand for certain skills; the ease of access to increasingly vast amounts of textual, image and other forms of information could require “new types of literacy” and an “environment that requires


increased collaboration” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 3). Searching, analysing, collating and discerning relevant information will become a key skill, as well as interpreting and re-using it (ibid.). Quick, easy access to such vast amounts of information is altering our relationship with knowledge in such a way as to raise questions about what it is that we need to know as individuals, about whether once “prized” knowledge remains, about “the sorts of skill and competency we might need” in the future and therefore about what, and how, we are taught in schools (Facer, 2011, p.56). Mobile technologies also have the potential to disperse sites of education into a diverse informal learning landscape, including “further integration into the home” and into libraries, museums and other public spaces (Jewitt, 2009, p. 9). Simultaneously, they can mitigate security concerns about monitoring children learning off-site, as long as a balance is struck between assisting safety and Orwellian surveillance. The complete disappearance of the physical school is predicted by some, whereby education is unified only by a “network of learning” (ibid.). Technologies provide new opportunities for collaboration and creativity through media such as social networking and video-conferencing. They allow even young pupils to communicate with external professionals, academics and “folk-educators”, giving a new context to what they are learning and relevance to real-life. These trends point towards an increasing personalisation of education that could provide “more authentic and engaging learning experiences” (Facer, 2011, p. 59) that stimulate “creativity and imagination” and “support deeper learning” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 7). It is thought that there will be a shift away from “disciplinary knowledge” towards more “generic skills” (Jewitt, 2009, p.17). Learners will need to develop the communication skills necessary for effective collaboration, new literacy skills, and the ability for ‘life-long learning’, to name a few. Schools will need to foster creativity and self-direction and provide a stimulating environment. Furthermore, the changing character of knowledge, creativity and communication wrought by technology may have a leveling effect for the hierarchical relationship between teacher and learner, whereby the teacher becomes a facilitator of self-led learning rather than the primary source for acquiring knowledge (Futurelab, 2009, p. 89).

04 Learning Environments Campaign


Fig. 3.3


05 Learning Environments Campaign

Fig. 3.4

06 Learning Environments Campaign


07 Learning Environments Campaign

8 Design Council Learning Environments Campaign

9 Design Council Learning Environments Campaign

Anti-clockwise from top: Handheld digital technologies are changing the educational experience of children by putting rapid access to vast amounts of information at their fingertips; Classroom, 1905; Classroom, 1950; Classroom, 2004; Interactive whiteboards: a new way to teach the same way?w

Generations and the lifecourse


In the UK, ageing population, the approach of the retirement age of the baby boom generation and a falling birth rate are already shifting the proportion of the population that is “economically active” (Wilson, 2009, p. 9) putting further economic strain on the pension and healthcare systems. It is expected that retirement age will continue to rise to mitigate this issue (Wilson, 2009, p. 9). However, when this is put into the context of employment instability (see, for example, Dex, 2008), it becomes apparent that a growing number of people will have to seek new jobs later in life (Wilson, 2009, p. 9). It is thought that in order to remain competitive in the job market, these people will face an increasing need to retrain and learn new skills (ibid.). It is argued that the best strategy to help people to achieve this is to teach them the skills necessary for “life-long learning” (Harper, 2009, p. 22) - the self-motivated pursuit of continued learning throughout life. Schools must support pupils in developing this skill from an early age. Adults who did not acquire lifelong learning capabilities during the education of their childhood must be given the opportunity to, so schools may increasingly be required to provide educational support for people of all ages. Intergenerational learning is a valuable contributor to life-long learning. Today, in addition to parents and grandparents educating their children and grandchildren, we see this learning happening in reverse. For example, it is common for children to teach elders how to use computing or mobile phone technology [Fig. 3.6] and to help them “to keep up with developments in our rapidly changing society” (Harper, 2009, p. 23). It is thought that intergenerational exchange of skills improves employment prospects by diversifying these skills, which in turn can improve economic productivity (Harper, 2009, p. 24). However, with the rise of “single and childless households” (Harper, 2009, p. 23), there is concern about “the future of intergenerational relations” and the potential lack of exposure to intergenerational and lifelong learning that these more isolated households will receive, potentially leading to their marginalisation from the job market. Another key emerging trend is the increase in human migration flows, which brings the challenge of integrating these people smoothly into society and the economy. This is more complicated for those who migrate in middle or later-life, for whom it is thought that intergenerational and life-long learning will be particularly important (Harper, 2009, p. 27). Learning from other migrants who have already been through this process is also very beneficial, which itself creates a demand for “spaces for mutual learning within civil society” (Harper, 2009, p. 27).


Fig. 3.5

Fig. 3.6

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Life long education of adults will move to the fore alongside early learners, and the division of education along chronological age lines will blur.â&#x20AC;? Harper 2009 p. 29.

Identity, community and citizenship


Communication is a critical actor in shaping the nature of identity, community and citizenship. As communication changes in light of new digital technologies, so too do the realms of identity, community and citizenship (Haste, 2009, p. 1). It is agued that today, participation in both realand virtual-world environments forms a “core element” of all three of these realms (ibid.). In particular, Web 2.0 and social media provide new ways of expressing ones identity and open the possibility of multiple identities. They expand the possibilities of the people and groups with which one can communicate and associate themselves, which in turn is likely to affect their motivation in terms of their education, their values and the ways they participate in society (Haste 2009 p. 7). Haste argues that education has a responsibility to teach pupils “the critical and technical skills to interact with technology effectively, to facilitate the development of positive and empowered identities and relationships” (2009, p. 1). Recent trends indicate that young people are disengaging with conventional forms of civic participation such as voting, leading to concerns of a “threat to democracy” (Haste, 2009, p. 15). However, there are more positive figures about other forms of engagement. New technologies widen the scope for civic participation; for example, the 2008 Obama election campaign capitalised on blogging sites such as twitter for distributing its message and rallying support with such great success that many argue that it has changed campaigning forever (Haste, 2009, p. 18). Fostering active citizenship will continue to be one of the core threads of education (Jewitt, 2009, p. 17). Schools have a responsibility to teach democracy and social values to pupils, yet typical operating practices that are still based on authority and hierarchy contradict this (Haste, 2009, p. 16). Interactive technologies democratize the system by blurring the boundary “between expert and novice” (Futurelab, 2009, p. 89), they present excellent opportunities for active, engaging and collaborative modes of formal education and they open up the possibilities for civic engagement. Despite their educational potential, many schools still ban such technologies, reinforcing the perceived divide of “leisure versus learning” (Haste, 2009, p. 23). In addition to technological participation, it is argued that schools should foster “hands-on” civic action, which can promote further civic engagement into adulthood (Haste 2009, p. 16). This provides an opportunity for the school and its pupils to work side-by-side with community groups, local businesses and the council to improve the lives of local people whilst building intergenerational solidarity.

Fig. 3.7


Work and employment


Technical change is likely to have the biggest impact on work and employment. Mobile technologies permit increasing numbers of employees to work almost anywhere and with more flexibility in their hours; a trend that looks likely to continue along with the blurring of the boundary between work and leisure (Wilson 2009, p. 19). Self-motivation is critical to thrive in this environment and schools must foster this attribute from an early age. However, technical developments also look set to reinforce the trend for less stable employment. In coming years, real-time speech recognition and translation, artificial intelligence and robotics, have the potential to expand the automation of jobs beyond the manufacturing sector and into certain service sector work, causing job losses (Wilson 2009, p. 4). There will be a polarisation of work; jobs in the middle look more likely to become automated (Wilson, 2009, p. 14), whilst very high-skilled work will increase with low-skilled service jobs that still require social contact, such as catering and hotel work (Wilson 2009, p. 13). Our changing relationship with knowledge brought by digital technologies causes rapid shifts in both specialisations and the value of certain qualifications (Futurelab, 2009, p. 51), again reinforcing employment instability and therefore the likelihood to need to retrain later in life. Alongside the trend for later retirement, this looks likely to continue to diminish the notion of a “job-for-life” (Wilson 2009, p. 9). Green (2009, p. 1) suggests that there will be an increase in the demand for “generic skills” in the workplace, such as communication skills, team working, problem solving and ICT (Futurelab 2009, p. 143). An OECD publication (Rychen and Salganik, 2003) identified 3 competencies needed for a “successful life”: “act autonomously”, “interact in heterogeneous groups” and “use tools interactively”. Schools must equip pupils with these skills if they are to fulfill their role of preparing them for employment, which has implications for the way that education is delivered (Wilson 2009, p. 13). It is argued that schools could reflect contemporary work practices much more in the way that they operate, such as in the flexibility of time and space whereby education happens, as well as by fostering more self-driven modes of education. Future schools will have a role in helping people recognise the value of low-skilled work as well as high skilled, especially as the need for lower skilled jobs continues to rise. There needs to be a greater emphasis on vocational education and “parity of esteem” between academic and vocational routes (Wilson, 2009, p. 37 and DfES, 2001, p. 30). Schools could develop stronger relationships with local businesses as one way to achieve this. Given the trend for employment instability and the need for all people to learn the skills of life-long learning, it is argued that the current education system is too “front-loaded”. Instead, it is proposed that education should be spread out more over the course of a lifetime, raising questions about the adaptability of the current system (Wilson 2009, p. 47).


Fig. 3.8

Fig. 3.9: Swindonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s NEET figures are high.

Fig. 3.10: Vocational training and work experience can help people into work

State, market & third sector


Although the state continues to be the primary provider of education, employers are recognised today as stakeholders in the process (Futurelab, 2009, p. 213). Governments recognise the need for the education system to equip pupils with the necessary skills for integration into the job market. Private companies and universities are already contributing to state education in the academies programme [Fig. 3.11], giving them the opportunity to influence the emphasis of the curriculum towards a specialization (Futurelab, 2009, p. 169). Although this brings the benefits of enriching education by rooting it in real-life contexts as well as increasing the potential of vocational routes, it could lead to limitations of pupilsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; future employment prospects if their education has been tied too closely with the particular interests of a single organisation (Sandford, 2009, p. 6). There are questions surrounding the extent to which private sector companies should be involved in the provision of education when their interests may not be aligned with those of their pupils or with wider society. If schools are to continue to develop close relationships with outside organizations, we must ensure that they are not eroded as democratic institutions and that they foremost represent the interests of their communities over any corporation. This is particularly important today, as the provision of education is increasingly devolved from local education authorities to individual schools (Sandford, 2009, p. 3).


Fig. 3.11: Swindon Academy was part sponsored by Honda UK, who have their UK manufacturing plant in the town.

Summary: Implications for school architecture


It is thought that the core objectives of education will remain the same: · The need to project learners into official discourses of knowledge

· An agenda for social inclusion, personal growth and active citizenship · Promotion of wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle · Providing people with the skills for work

(Jewitt, 2009, p. 17) However, critical for the future of education is how the “context and conditions of their articulation” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 17) may change, of which a school’s architecture forms a part. The aforementioned trends have the potential to radically alter our approach to school architecture, from the urban scale, to the learning space. The school may become less isolated within its urban context, becoming the heart of a network of diverse educational space dispersed across the town or city. The purpose-built, single occupancy school building could begin to merge into the urban landscape, and begin to share or hire facilities with other groups or organizations. In this sense, the school becomes a fragment of the town itself. Creating an overlap in the provision of education between the public and private sectors could allow other organisations to be utilised for enriching education, through real-life application and preparing pupils for future employment. The personalisation of the educational experience, including the breakdown of fixed curricula and timetabling, throw the suitability of the cellular classroom into question, which brings with it the entire organisational model and spatial hierarchy of the prototypical school [Fig. 3.12]. Pupils will move around at different times of day and undertake different activities and subject matter. The school must provide suitable settings for the varying needs of individuals to take control of their own education, allowing them to choose or adapt their environment to suit their particular needs. The diversification of learners to include people of all ages, the diversification of who is “teacher” to include people from outside the school, and the diversification of sites of learning, change the nature of the school from being an essentially private building to seeing it “as an important public space” (Facer, 2011, p. 102). This change clearly raises questions about security, such as the extent to which the public can access areas of the school used by children and the relationships between public and private spaces. The changing needs of society create a need and an opportunity for reimagining the school as a public space, a building that speaks of inclusion rather than exclusion. It must achieve this at the same time as providing the necessary security for pupils, which has been a key design challenge, explored in the thesis through a manipulation of the boundary between


Fig. 3.12: Current best practice: Fielden Clegg Bradley Studio’s ‘school plan types’ are all dominated by the cellular classroom


public and private space. In contrast to those who predict a “de-schooled” future (Illich, 1973, citied in Higgins, 2009, p. 2), it is argued that the physical presence of a school will be as important as ever in addressing new needs, but that its boundaries will become more porous and blurred as the school becomes woven into the urban fabric. The schools of a town can become its lifeblood, bringing together individuals, communities, organisations and government, to help them build the necessary capabilities to thrive throughout the 21st century. “A physical, local school where community members are encouraged to encounter each other and learn from each other is one of the last public spaces in which we can begin to build the intergenerational solidarity, respect for diversity and democratic capability needed to ensure fairness in the context of socio-technical change” (Facer 2011 p. 28).


Fig. 3.13: To react positively to emerging social and technological change, schools will need to break the trend for increasingly forboding security measures.

4 62

spatialising pedagogy


â&#x20AC;&#x153;Review of subject-and specialist-based curricula and recognition of the possibilities and value of interdisciplinary studies suggest, once again, the need for an alternative relationship between time and space in schools.â&#x20AC;? Burke and Grosvenor, 2008, p.162

Spatialising Pedagogy: Part



Part One of this chapter describes recent changes in teaching and learning practice that have occurred in part due to social and technical trends and in part as a result of our improved understanding of effective learning techniques. It explains how these changes affect the daily activities of pupils and change the requirements of space, and the extent to which the changes have been adopted in the UK. It then illustrates other recent approaches to organising space for learning that are more in tune with contemporary pedagogic theory. Part Two will describe the strategy adopted for this design thesis. The practices of teaching and learning in England’s secondary schools have made a noticeable shift in recent years towards a more varied and holistic approach, diversifying from the traditional lecture-style technique that has dominated schooling since the early days of mass education. The shift represents an acknowledgement of the varying educational needs of pupils as individuals and the “abundant” (Nair and Fielding, 2005, p. 19) body of evidence that single-mode teaching is not conducive with the most effective learning. To be more effective, and to avoid putting some pupils at a disadvantage, (Nair and Fielding, 2005, p. 19), learning should involve a wide range of activities and techniques and be tailored to the individual, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach (Space4PL, 2008, p. 21). Perhaps most importantly, pupils must be “active, not passive” in the process (Mortimore, 1993, p. 293). Furthermore, the shift acknowledges the changing needs of 21st century society, such as our relationship with knowledge and technology and shifting requirements from employers, as outlined in Chapter 3. Building Bulletin 95 (2002, p. 8) also acknowledges that education must change “to enable us to cope with changes in society.” These developments have mainly happened since the turn of the millennium, in particular as part of the BSF programme as it sought to “transform” education (James, 2011, p. 70). Currently, there is a widespread emphasis on approaches to education that reflect a more personalised conception of learning (Dudek, 2007), which have featured in a number of recent government papers (see for example: Space4PL, 2008, or DfES, 2006). Fundamentally, “personalised learning” demands diversity in curricula and learning methods between pupils. It allows pupils more choice in what they learn, how they learn and at what pace, depending on their own interests, strengths and ability. In future, pupils could develop their own learning programmes in close collaboration with their mentor (Facer, 2011, p. 118), to work towards their personal goals. The implication of this is a new relationship between time and space in schools: pupils would move around the school at different times, undertaking different activities. Under the supervision of one teacher, one pupil may work alone whilst others work in groups or pairs, or receive one-to-one tutoring. For this to work, teachers must become mentors and facilitators as opposed to “conduits of knowledge” Fig. 4.1



(Futurelab, 2009, p. 90) [Fig. 4.2]. The process must be structured and targeted (DCSF, 2011, p. 3), with ongoing assessment to ensure progress is occurring at the correct pace. This places a significant demand on teachers and appropriate training would be essential (Facer,2011, p.131). Personalised learning engages pupils as “active partners” in their own education, (DfES, 2006, p. 6) demanding that they take greater responsibility in it than is the current norm and be more self-motivated (Building Futures, 2004, p. 11). Developing these skills at an early age will better prepare pupils for the employment landscape of the 21st century. Nair and Fielding (2009, p. 19-20) have created a list of 18 learning “modalities” that begins to paint a picture of some of the diverse of activities that will become more common in everyday secondary education: Independent study Peer tutoring Team collaborative work in small and mid-size groups (2–6 students) One-on-one learning with the teacher Lecture format with the teacher or outside expert at center stage Project-based learning Technology-based learning with mobile computers Distance learning (via networks) Research via the Internet with wireless networking Student presentations Performance and music-based learning Seminar-style instruction Community service learning Naturalistic learning (curiosity-led, sequential, need-to-know) Social/emotional learning Art-based learning Storytelling Learning by building—hands learning As activities, curricula and timetables diversify, so too do their demands on space (DCSF, 2011, p. 9). The National Strategies: Personalised Learning paper (2011), states that learning environments should “facilitate a wide range of teaching and learning activities”, which, it is argued, would be “extremely difficult” to achieve in cellular classrooms (Nair and Fielding, p.

key pedag o g i c a l a p p r o a c h es


... a range of pedagogies will be used according to subject matter and essential learning forms. These pedagogies will target and support teachers and facilitators improved student skills outcomes and enhanced student competencies. Students are atas thementors centre of learning, with teachers as facilitators

[source: Dr Kenn Fisher]



student skills

- writing - reading - talking - presenting - making

self directed [individual reflective]


student competencies - critical thinking - communicating (multi modes) - self organising - collaborating

students as researchers

discipline speciality others



teachers as facilitators

integrated curriculum [thematic]


teachers as mentors and facilitators

teachers as facilitators teachers as mentors and facilitators

explicit instruction

individual learning contracts

1.03 teachers as mentors and facilitators

Fig. 4.2


19). Burke and Grosvenor (2008, p. 166) agree that there may be “a need for the freeing up of space and a removal of pre-determined adult centric pedagogical cues, such as the classroom per se.” The idea’s that underpin a more personalised conception of education are not new, and can be closely linked with the philosophy of John Dewey and the progressivism movement from the early 1900s. Dewey believed that pupils should pursue their own interests at school, that education should be rooted in real contexts, and that it should reflect normal social behaviour as opposed to the regimentation witnessed in traditional schools (Gislason, 2009, p. 22). His work, most notably the Laboratory School, has been affecting pockets of school design for decades, making its way into discourses of secondary school design in the late 1960s in the Education Facilities Laboratory’s publication: Educational change and Architectural Consequences (1968) (Gislason, 2009, p. 33). Open plan models for primary schools became common in the UK in the 1960s to ‘80s but the trend collapsed because they were deemed impractical. Finmere Infant School, designed by Mary Medd in the late 1950s was the model that inspired confidence in open-plan learning spaces and set the tone for primary school design for the 1960s [Fig. 4.3]. The success of Finmere can be largely attributed the close collaboration between Medd and Oxfordshire Education Authority, where there was a “systematic approach to the training of in-service teachers” (Burke and Grosvenor, 2008, p. 133-136). However, this level of collaboration and necessary training did not continue and “the movement towards large, open classrooms failed largely because most teachers did not adopt… practices suited to open instructional spaces” (Gislason, 2009, p. 2). The memory of the failure of this movement may still cause hesitancy to adopt non-cellular school designs today, despite the fact that the pedagogic ideas underpinning open design “remain strong” (Gislason 2009, p. 37). Coupled with social and technical trends there is a renewed argument for a reconsideration of the spatial organisation of schools, but it must occur in parallel with appropriate staff training.


Fig. 4.3: Finmere Primary School plan. Not to scale

UK school architecture


Unfortunately, the picture of education today, at least in terms of the way it is delivered, remains very similar to how it was conceived in the mid-to-late 19th century. Robinson argues that by “attempting to meet the demands of the future by doing what they did in the past”, schools are “alienating” pupils, “who do not believe its promise of economic inclusion or see even the point of it” (Robinson, 2010) [Fig. 4.4]. In the UK, developments in pedagogical theory have had a relatively small impact on school architecture. BSF was criticised for not achieving its aim of “transforming education”, nor even properly defining it. Personalised learning became increasingly prevalent in discussions about the future of education, but few new schools adopted the principles wholeheartedly enough to radically affect their architecture. Perhaps due to uncertainty about what the future of education may look like during a time of rapid change, school architecture has in recent years retreated into a commitment to flexibility and adaptability (Facer, 2011, p. 104); a strategy that is advised by the DfES in Schools for the Future: Exemplar designs and concepts and ideas (2004, p. 5). This typically manifested itself as folding walls, flexible space or a structural strategy that permits the removal of internal walls at a later date [Fig. 4.5]. Some designs attempted to create spatial diversity for personalised learning through clustering classrooms around a central, flexible space [Fig. 4.6], or through “expanded corridors” or “learning streets”. However, the DfES paper did not set out a clear pedagogical vision, so even the best architects and designers had little to work with in terms of helping the government to achieve transformation. It is argued that this strategy of futureproofing fails to appropriately engage with the issues of social, technological and pedagogical change (Facer, 2011, p. 104) and that many recently built schools are “unsuited to the changing future pedagogy, curriculum and learner expectations that we can already anticipate” (Heppel et al, 2004, p. 1). It is unknown to what extent school architecture has impeded the uptake of contemporary teaching practice. However, it appears that diversification in teaching practice has been slow to take hold. A Campaign for Learning survey (2007) found that the 3 most common classroom activities were copying from a board or text book, listening to the teacher for long periods and taking notes whilst the teacher talks. Furthermore, learning outside and involving external people in teaching are still very rare occurrences, despite BB95 promoting the benefits both of these. The 2020 vision group argued that personalised learning must play a central role in meeting our aspirations for the shape of education in 2020 (2006, p. 5). We must therefore make sure that new schools are designed in such a way that actually promotes this activity, and find ways to develop intelligent design briefs that are tailored to pedagogy.




The vision of this exemplar is to achieve this through the creation of defensible space and

Adaptability and Flexibility

interact, both internally and externa

flexible classroom clusters that look to the outside landscape to create a positive and

The flexibility offered through the design extends beyond teaching and learning styles

lack of social space in schools is o driver in deteriorating the behaviou especially at scheduled break time

open learning environment.

in the classroom to address flexible teacher administration, meeting and planning space

times. This often has negative impl facilities management. The use of e

Our motivation came from the users, the


teachers and the pupils who have to work in the environment that we design. Our

This is integrated with a need to address

spaces and stairs as seating areas these issues in a sympathetic yet p manner.

extensive educational engagement and scenario testing gave a voice to these users

inclusion and create differentiated learning opportunities for pupils.

in the design process; it established critical educational design factors and designed the exemplar from the inside out. Form and

Our design has tackled these issues through

function have driven the creation of a flexible and inspirational learning environment for all users, including the extended community.

The vision of this exemplar is to achieve this through the creation of defensible space and flexible classroom clusters that look to the outside landscape to create a positive and open learning environment.

Management and Organisatio the creation of flexible ‘break out’ spaces and multi-use office/meeting rooms adjacent to classroom clusters. It must be able to deliver a vocational and academic curriculum whilst having common areas for larger class size

We have designed our exemplar in line with delivery. expected curriculum and policy reform, including the 14 to 19 agenda and workload There is also a need for adaptability to meet assessment and the need to address new pupil needs. Our design provides this. It interact, both internally and externally. The Adaptability and Flexibility ways of working for all staff. creates social spaces for pupils to meet and lack of social space in schools is often a key driver in deteriorating the behaviour of pupils, The flexibility offered through the design especially at scheduled break times and lunch extends beyond teaching and learning styles times. This often has negative implications for in the classroom to address flexible teacher facilities management. The use of external administration, meeting and planning space spaces and stairs as seating areas addresses requirements. these issues in a sympathetic yet practical manner. This is integrated with a need to address

Access and Inclusion are now key all schools and classroom teaching

mixed ability teaching now commo need to provide differentiated learn

opportunities, classroom design m the diverse requirements of teache formal delivery and breakaway grou spaces in the same area. Such inte must also provide for students with disabilities, who have their own spe

Fig. 4.4: Robinson, 2010. Out-dated modes of education are alienating children.

Our motivation came from the users, the teachers and the pupils who have to work in the environment that we design. Our extensive educational engagement and scenario testing gave a voice to these users in the design process; it established critical educational design factors and designed the exemplar from the inside out. Form and function have driven the creation of a flexible and inspirational learning environment for all users, including the extended community. We have designed our exemplar in line with expected curriculum and policy reform, including the 14 to 19 agenda and workload assessment and the need to address new ways of working for all staff.

Possible variations of the cluster: from left to right, four, five

A five classroom cluster

A five classroom cluster

A six classroom cluster


Building Schools for the Future Exemplar Design

and six classrooms, and four light practical spaces

inclusion and create differentiated learning opportunities for pupils. Possible variations of and six classrooms, the cluster: from left Management and four lightand Organisation right,through four, five practical spaces Our design has tackled these to issues Access and Inclusion are now key aspects of the creation of flexible ‘break out’ spaces and all schools and classroom teaching. With multi-use office/meeting rooms adjacent to mixed ability teaching now common and the classroom clusters. It must be able to deliver need to provide differentiated learning a vocational and academic curriculum whilst opportunities, classroom design must reflect having common areas for larger class size the diverse requirements of teachers for both delivery. formal delivery and breakaway group work spaces in the same area. Such integration There is also a need for adaptability to meet must also provide for students with SEN or pupil needs. Our design provides this. It disabilities, who have their own specific creates social spaces for pupils to meet and

A six classroom cluster

Fig. 4.5

Fig. 4.6

BSF Exemplar Design: Penoyre and Prasad Adaptability for long-term change: removal of walls

BSF Exemplar Design: MACE architects Clusters and break-out


Linking Pedagogy to Space


Despite the disaggregation of the delivery of education from universal to individual, it is

Fig. 4.7

thought that the core objectives of education will remain the same (see p. 58). In addition, the need to understand and develop our relationship with the environment and our responsibility to it is argued to become increasingly prevalent in education (Facer, 2012). However, the social and technical trends outlined in Chapter 3, and the pedagogical trends discussed in this chapter, create a strong case for seriously reconsidering the way that we design learning environments in the 21st century. It is time to close this gap between pedagogy and space and explore ways that school architecture can help facilitate better teaching and learning through informed design. Linking Pedagogy and Space (2005), written by Dr Kenn Fisher, research fellow at the Faculty of Education, University of South Australia, proposes a clear set of principles for planning educational space specifically to cater for contemporary pedagogic practice. The paper, written for the Department of Education and Training (Victoria, Australia), categorises a complete range of pedagogic activities into 5 “modes”: delivering, applying, creating, communicating and decision making, assigning each of these specific spatial requirements [Fig. 4.7]. He then creates a set of spatial icons that describe a range of spaces [Fig. 4.8] linking these to the 5 modes. This can then inform a design brief that is built on meeting specific pedagogical activities. Fisher’s connections between pedagogy and space provide a solid foundation for developing the brief for this proposal because the pedagogic principles that underpin them are very similar, such as self-motivation, personalisation and learning that “connects strongly with communities and practice beyond the classroom” (2005, p. 2.01). The brief for the thesis proposal builds on Fisher’s paper in a way that responds to the social and technological research, namely full integration of the school and its operation into the town and full integration of community education into the fabric of the building. In addition, it considers the environmental design of each space individually, including spatial, daylight, thermal, acoustic and material qualities, catering for particular pedagogical requirements.

Fig. 4.8


learning settings ... possible learning settings for various modes and group sizes. These multi-modal learning settings should be collocated and clustered to

[source: Dr Kenn Fisher]

allow students to move around the various learning environments to suit the particular learning task

colloboration incubator

group learning

presentation space

teacher meeting space

resources, supply + store individual pod [place to think]

student home base

specialised focus lab

project space + wet areas

outdoor learning

display space

breakout space


Spatial planning


In recognition of changing educational theory, a few architects have already begun to work with educators in developing alternative approaches for the spatial organisation of schools. Bruce Jilk has gained international acclaim for his radical approach to school design. He turns the modernist mantra “form follows function” on its head, arguing that defining the function of a school too narrowly will limit its possibilities and that, in this case, function should follow form. He plays with the idea that learning can happen anywhere, not just the classroom: “it can happen in a closet, it can happen in a café, it can happen in a cathedral. So how do you create a space for learning?” (Thomas, 2006) Jilk’s schools are characterised by the loose-fit nature of their space. His design for a school in Reykjavik, Iceland, features large, open plan learning “bases” set around a large “forum”. Each of these bases is divided by service zones that define different spaces within them [Fig. 4.9] . The idea is to allow complete freedom in the plan and to allow the users to adapt and build their own space within. Jilk proposes school architecture as a “montage of gaps” (Burke & Grosvenor, p. 166-7), reflecting his view that learning can happen anywhere and in both formal and informal ways. Fielding Nair International has worked on educational projects in 42 countries. They commonly design learning environments as “communities” for different subject groupings. These communities feature different sized spaces for a range of activities, bound by more loose-fit space [Fig. 4.10]. This intelligent response provides varied space tailored for specific activities, whilst providing sufficient breathing space for informal learning to occur.

Fig. 4.9

School in Reykjavik, Iceland Bruce Jilk Typical â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;baseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; plan


Fig. 4.10 International School of Brussels, proposed plan Fielding Nair International



Creative Learning


These designs both propose alternative strategies to the cellular model for organising the spaces of schools in a way that responds to contemporary educational theory. However, they still exist within their wider context as islands of resource almost exclusively for children. This thesis takes the next step to propose a design for a secondary school that addresses not only contemporary pedagogy but also the issues brought by social and technical change: most importantly complete community inclusion and integration into the urban and economic landscape. “Such a school would not be the ‘future-proof’ school… seeking simply to adapt itself to change and prepare its students for their role in the knowledge economy. Instead, it would be a future-building school,… a public space for a community’s conversation about the future.“ (Facer, 2011, p. 15)

Fig. 4.11 Town Plan 1:5000

The school is at the heart of an integrated network of educational resource distributed across the town, including public buildings and spaces, employers, leisure facilities and other academic institutions.


Spatialising Pedagogy: Part



Design Proposal

During the course of the design process, 3 key challenges emerged as critical to achieving the aspirations of the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;futurebuildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; school: conceiving of a new organisational model for teaching and learning spaces, the relationship between the school and the town and the relationship between public and private spaces inside the school. These challenges have been addressed using a single overriding strategy that has been adopted at the urban, building and spatial scales. This is conceived as a series of fragments, nodes and boundary conditions. At an urban scale, the building weaves itself into the daily life of the town through its nodal position and its fragmented form, its bustling public square and its overlap of public and private programme. Large slices in the building form open it to the town [Fig. 4.12], dividing it into its different uses: school, theatre, library and commercial/ council services. Within these fragments the boundary between public and private areas is dynamic, and is carefully articulated to create shared space. This chapter focuses on one of these fragments: the inner school [Fig. 4.13], and addresses the first of the three challenges, spatialising new pedagogical visions. The other two challenges are described in more depth in Chapters 5: Pedagogical Urbanism, and Chapter 6: Institutional Porosity.

Fig. 4.12



The proposal builds on the idea of the urban landscape as a dispersed educational environment (see Chapter 3: Social and technical change, p. 48), to envisage a new spatial orchestration for a school, aligned with the pedagogical vision. The spaces of the school are composed as a metaphorical microcosm of a city. The learning spaces are the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s buildings; each offering a different kind of resource with its own environmental quality tailored for its purpose. These are the formal environments for structured learning activity. The spaces between are the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s public spaces, its streets and squares; loose-fit spaces for informal learning, collaboration, chance encounters and socialising. Pupils move around the spaces of the school, utilising the various resources for their specific purposes. In the new model of education, pupils will no longer all move around at the same time, at the sound of a bell. Where a resource is not offered within the confines of the school, pupils can seek support from any number of partners elsewhere in the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s network of educational facilities. The learning spaces of the proposal are clustered as nodes for particular categories of pedagogical activity. Combined with clear sight lines and distinctive reference points, these nodes, each with a distinct quality, create a legible organisation that helps pupils navigate the school. Choreographed movement becomes an important feature: through the school and the town, seeking-out the best resources, making connections, collaborating and giving context to learning. The movement and activities of 5 school users is illustrated in a full-day timeline that can be found in Chapter 5: Pedagogical Urbanism. The timeline describes the pedagogical activity in more depth and how they relate to the core objectives of education.

Fig. 4.13 Inner school Fig. 4.14


â&#x20AC;&#x153;The city, village or town as a metaphor for school has re-emerged strongly in contemporary design discourse. The city is at once an inclusive environment, serving the community in all its physical, emotional and spiritual needs.â&#x20AC;? Burke and Grosvenor, 2008, p. 172


The spatial nodes are: Communication Community Learning Hands-on Home Base Meeting Performance Reading/ Researching Ecology Corridor

Fig. 4.15

The proposal is designed for 500 pupils, which is significantly smaller than the typical UK secondary school of today. This is in response to the body of research that indicates the benefits of smaller institutions, such as better academic achievement and pupil and teacher attitudes (See, for example, Schneider, 2002, p. 9-12; or Davies, 2011). A network of interconnected small schools could be built in the centre of Swindon to meet its dramatic planned population increase (Swindon Borough Council, 2007b, p. 18). In addition to the pupils, there will be a community of up to 2300 associated adults, including the pupilsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; families, local residents and affiliated members such as businesspeople and academics.1 Although the school is small in terms of pupil numbers, it is large in physical scale by comparison, reflecting the schools widened responsibilities to the rest of the town and the resulting additional programme. The total area of the school is approximately 10,500m2, of which only 3,700m2 is dedicated to pupil use. It is worth noting that 2500m2 is commercial/ council space, in response to local need. The public use the rest of the school intensively, predominantly the library, theatre, community learning spaces and large social space. As the first of Swindonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s network of small schools, this would perhaps be the largest by area; others would likely have less by the way of specialist facilities as grand as the theatre. Each school would develop a brief for public facilities based on the needs their particular locality.


Ratio of pupils to adults based on those set out in Facer, 2011, p. 110


Fig. 4.16: Physical model of school

Linking pedagogy to space: proposal


Community Learning


Fig. 4.17

Ground floor plan


Entrance foyer


Social space






Theatre foyer-cafe




Retail/ Council services


Business Enterprise





School Library

Scale: 1:500

Retail/Council offices Business enterprise Theatre Porosity of boundary at ground level

Fig. 4.18

87 5

3 2






First floor plan

Key: Modelmaking studio








Assembly hall


Augmented reality room


Community learning


Ecology corridor


Theatre foyer







Retail/Council offices


Retail/ Council services

Business enterprise


Business Enterprise


Scale: 1:500





Porosity of boundary at ground level

Fig. 4.19


food lift

goods lift

89 10



7 8


5 11 4

1 2


12 13

Second floor plan


Key: 1



Loose-fit space






Communication node


Community learning


Ecology Corridor


Meeting spaces


Theatre Restaurant




Library- public


Library- pupils


Retail/ Council services

Scale: 1:500

Fig. 4.20
















1 1 1 2







Fig. 4.21







Community learning

Communication node






Material and spatial quality Overview


The building fabric is timber, which is expressed in its internal environment [Fig. 4.25]. Structural walls and floors are built of cross-laminated timber and are left exposed where it is deemed appropriate. This material choice is an environmental one, but also a deliberate juxtaposition to the colder, greyer nature of Swindonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s concrete architecture. Its warmth and softness is visible from outside the building and creates an inviting atmosphere. The outside of the building is wrapped in a copper mesh of varying density, for different shading, daylight and view requirements [Fig 4.22-4.24]. In

Fig. 4.22

addition to its environmental purpose, it creates a unified façade that holds the building form together and deliberately belies its mixed uses behind. It gives the building a grandness of scale that makes it feel like a major public building, and a material quality that resonates with its industrial setting.

Fig. 4.23: Copper facade, external appearance

Fig. 4.24: Copper facade, view out


Fig. 4.25

Fig. 4.26


There is significant evidence that the environmental qualities of a space, such as daylight, acoustics, thermal comfort and air quality, can affect cognitive performance, mood and behaviour (see, for example: Higgins et al, 2005; Earthman, 2004; or Fisher, 2001). The various educational nodes each have their own material and environmental character suited to the particular requirements of the pedagogic activities that occur within them, in order to create a supportive and healthy environment for effective learning. The buildingwide strategy is for natural ventilation whenever possible. Ventilation for the core teaching and learning fragment of the school is primarily driven by natural stack effect (assisted when required, see appendix 2). The main stacks are located in the “home-bases” drawing air through a plenum below ground. During more temperate parts of the year, openable windows supplement the air supply and provide an added degree of “adaptive opportunity” (Baker and Standeven, 1995, p.76-84). Where thermal mass is added to walls or floors for environmental temperance or variance, water pipes run through the concrete to assist the warming or cooling effect. The thermal properties of the adjacent canal will be utilised to supplement the heating and cooling of the thermal mass in conjunction with a water source heat pump.

Fig. 4.27


Material and spatial quality Community and Intergenerational learning


This is informal, adaptable space for members of the community to come together, to learn side-by side and to help one-another. Seminars would be held in these spaces for both the public and pupils at the same time. A typical example might be an employment skills workshop, for developing team-working, leadership, ICT or literacy and numeracy skills. Others might include language classes, careers advice, book clubs or self-help. The Community Learning Node would have a busy schedule of activities throughout the day and evening and into the weekends and would have a changing monthly programme that is published publicly.


Fig. 4.28: CAD render, community learning node

Material and spatial quality Hands-on learning node


Fig. 4.29

These are the laboratories, workshops and art-studios: creative spaces where learning through making and testing happens. These are the main spaces for kinesthetic learning activity and each is highly specialist. The nature of the activity is usually very engaged, but also includes expert-led demonstrations.

Material and spatial quality Meeting rooms


Fig. 4.30

This node is a collection of both open and closed spaces of an intimate scale. Designed for one-to-one learning, such as with mentors, tutors, councilors or peers, and for group collaborations up to 8 people. There is a selection of spaces of varying degrees of privacy, from completely enclosed space for private activities such as tutoring or performance reviews, to open spaces for informal discussions such as organising timetables with a mentor.

Material and spatial quality Home base


It is considered important that pupils, particularly of a younger age, have a retreat space to which they feel a sense of belonging (Facer, 2012b). The home-bases provide a relaxing environment of a deliberately domestic scale at the heart of the school. The space “provides a sense of ownership and teaches responsibility for one’s own learning” as well as “a common space to start a learning activity, seek assistance and resources, share ideas, and hold group discussions” (Fisher, 2005, p. 2.04). The home-bases are divided into living-room-like spaces that are shared by a smaller group of pupils within the “house”. Each group can personalise their own space to make it their own. Some designs provide every pupil with their own desk as a “home base” (see, for example Fisher, 2005) that they can personalise. This strategy was not deemed to be suitable on this occasion, because pupils move around throughout the day and would not spend much time at a personal desk. Instead, pupils share a “home” that they can personalise with their own artwork, plants, books and furniture. The bases also form the environmental core of the building. Each base has a large void running up through it and beyond the roof-line to drive natural ventilation using the stack effect. Unlike the majority of the school, these spaces are exposed concrete. This provides thermal mass, enhancing the ‘adaptive opportunity’ and retreat-like character of these spaces.


Fig. 4.31: CAD render of home-base

Material and spatial quality Communication Node







including the use of audio-visual technology and augmented reality. These spaces are more formal than others and have a good degree of acoustic separation. This makes them suitable for auditory and visual learning activities that might include lecture-style learning, seminars, watching online tutorial videos or streaming live lectures, student presentations or conferencing, such as with a partner school in another country.


Fig. 4.32

Detail Communication Node





Loose-ďŹ t space


450 250





Fig. 4.33

Courtyard garden

1 Roofing felt 18mm oriented strand board timber spacing battens for roof pitch 18mm oriented strand board 150mm rigid insulation 18mm oriented strand board 250mm joists between timber trusses, 18mm birch veneer plywood, oiled. 2 Carpet finish Raised floor with 150mm service zone below. 75mm sound insulation 450mm composite CLT panel (2x90mm flanges, 270mm web).

Small conferencing room

3 Linoleum floor finish 80mm polished concrete floor, with underfloor heating 80mm rigid insulation 150mm concrete slab above plenum. 4 Hung copper mesh on steel frame, with varying density for shading/views. 18mm pine plywood, scumbled. 25mm battens Waterproof membrane 150mm rigid insulation Vapour barrier 120mm CLT panel, exosed internally

Courtyard garden


Material and spatial quality Outdoor learning


Fig. 4.34

Outdoor spaces provide a stimulating environment for broadening the learning experience and have shown to have a positive effect on performance (Tanner, 2000, p. 309). In addition to sports provision, a number of gardens of varying character and scale have been designed. Small outdoor â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;roomsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; have been cut out of the deep floor plan, to provide a quiet and sheltered escape, also bringing daylight into the interior. A larger pupil courtyard has been cut next to the community learning node, providing space for group collaborations and outdoor seminars in its small amphitheatre. Additionally, there is a large pupil-only area for large demonstrations or educational games to the west of the building and a large community vegetable garden.

Other spaces

Performance-based Spaces designed for learning through creative exploration,

Fig. 4.35

such as music, performance or dance. Music spaces are acoustically separated and a high-spec theatre provides an excellent setting for performance art. The stage can be closed from the auditorium, doubling up as a multi-use space large enough to serve as a formal dance studio.

Reading/ researching

Fig. 4.36

The library serves as a resource for pupils to conduct more serious academic study in a relaxed environment. It provides a comfortable and quiet place to read, but is also the central hub for the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s digital and networked resources. It is a respectful environment for pupils to take responsibility for their own learning and to work on their personal projects. It holds information about everything to do with the town, from its history to its current needs and problems, which can be useful for instigating community-based projects.

Ecology corridor This is a place for pupils to learn about flora and fauna and about the environment and our relationship with it (Facer, interview, 2012b). Pupils can learn about eco-systems here or about growing food to eat. In addition, it provides an interstitial environment between indoors and out; a good place to escape from the hum of the school, to sit and read amongst the plants and insects. It also provides a strong reference point for navigating the school.

Fig. 4.37


Material and spatial quality Loose-fit space


The spaces between nodes are informal, open spaces. They promote collaboration, interaction and creativity. The spaces range in scale to accommodate different group sizes and activities, from individual or one-to-one, to large groups more akin to traditional class sizes. They serve as breakout space to the educational nodes and provide pupils with the adaptive opportunity to find a space that suits them best for their own learning. Voids cut through the deep plan in these spaces to provide daylight, ventilation and garden spaces throughout the building. Daylight is provided from more than one direction wherever possible in response to early technical studies conducted to inform the design (see appendix 2).

Fig. 4.38


Fig. 4.39: CAD render

Material and spatial quality Assembly hall


Fig. 4.40


Fig. 4.41: 2012 Serpentine pavilion



A new model for organising space within schools has been proposed. This model responds to recent developments in pedagogy that are reinforced by emerging social and technical change. The spaces are designed individually for specific pedagogical activities and, when combined, provide a rich variety of spaces and environments aligned with the diverse educational landscape of the 21st century. The proposal assumes a continued shift towards the personalisation of education, which is a trend that is already in motion and looks set to prevail. However, for this shift to be effective it will require a dramatic role change for teachers, who will need significant retraining in order to become facilitators and guardians of self-led education. They will have to oversee a range of activities occurring simultaneously rather than addressing a class as a single group. There will similarly have to be a change in pupil attitudes too. They will need to be taught to take control of their own education instead of following a predetermined route, which will require more self-motivation. This has shown to be a successful model in the examples mentioned, but this kind of learning needs to be fostered from a young age. Although this may make the design proposal inappropriate for widespread adoption in the UK today, it could certainly inform the design of more progressive-thinking schools.

Fig. 4.42


5 116

pedagogical urbanism activating the town as school


design proposal


An argument has been created for blurring the boundaries of the school in response to changing social needs. Building Bulletin 95 (2002 p. 10) proposes that the school should provide more in the way of community services and that pupils should benefit from educational opportunities beyond the school walls. Beyond Current Horizons (Futurelab, 2009) adds to this the benefits afforded by closer links between schools and other organizations, such as businesses and community groups. The core threads of education can be made more engaging and more enriched by giving them real-life context in ways such as this. The most radical visions imagine that this will lead to a “de-schooled” future (Futurelab, 2009, p. 102), where education is dispersed into sites across the urban landscape. However, Facer argues that, given the range of possible consequences of emerging social and technical trends, a physical school, to serve the public and community interest, will be as important as ever (2011, p. 15). The continued existence of the physical school, but with a reconsideration of its boundaries, is the preferred strategy for facilitating an improved delivery of the core responsibilities of the school in the 21st century, for both children and adults. This chapter describes pupil movement through the school and outwards into town in relation to their education. Firstly, it explains how each of the responsibilities is addressed in this urban approach to pedagogy. It then relates this to the design proposal and discusses the second of the aforementioned design challenges: the relationship between the school and the town, before illustrating how this approach is implemented through a timeline that follows the activities of 5 school users during a typical day.

The “death of the school” narrative fails to take account of the identity, community and citizenship functions served by a school-like institution. FutureLab, 2009, p. 69 Fig. 5.1


Urban resources


How an urban approach to pedagogy relates to the core responsibilities of the school and to social and technical change:

Preparation for employment: It is believed that creating closer relationships between schools and other organizations can help to smooth the transition from school into employment or further academic study, which is currently seen as a big gap. To some extent this is already happening; businesses and universities are sponsoring the academies programme, as Honda UK have at Swindon Academy. However, this is only a first step; schools should develop relationships with many organisations to enrich the educational experience and improve the employment prospects of their pupils. Pupils could develop a rapport with various organisations throughout their school years. Businesspeople could come to the school to work with younger pupils, and older pupils could go out into workplaces to gain first hand experience. Furthermore, strong links with businesses, particularly those with prestige (see list), could help to facilitate more equality between academic and vocational routes.

Promoting Active Citizenship: Pupils could go beyond the school boundaries to be involved in community work. Studies have indicated that hands-on community work that is shown to make a positive difference can foster long-term civic participation (Futurelab 2009 p. 82). This is something that the school should actively engage in, encouraging young people to get involved in local issues and the democratic process in general. It would also have the benefit of reinforcing public perception that the school is a public resource that acts in the interests of the community.

Examples of educational resources in Swindon beyond the confines of the school: Employers: Tyco Electronics Intel Motorola BT Zurich financial services Nationwide Building Society Honda UK BMW National Trust Designer outlet village Brunel Shopping Centre Holiday Inn Swindon Borough Council First Great Western Academic: Swindon College UK research Councils Swindon central library STEAM museum English Heritage records The mechanics institute Leisure: Oasis Leisure Centre Wyvern Theatre Community/ Charity: Swindon guide dogs centre Salvation army Swindon Volunteer centre Age UK

Promoting health and well-being:

Pupils must learn to become proactive in seeking a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle. This does not necessarily have

Town Plan 1:5000

to involve taking part in competitive sports. Relationships Fig. 5.2



with other organizations can help promote this through greater diversification of the available options, which could involve activities such as dog-walking, cycling, skateboarding, rockclimbing, yoga, martial arts or even indoor skiing (see p. 124).

Engaging in discourses of knowledge: Today, many pupils struggle to see the point of what they are being taught. Rooting education in real-life contexts through collaboration with other organizations and specialists can help to re-engage them. This could help them to understand future applications of what they are learning, as well as allowing them to follow more personal interests that may not be available from the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s internal knowledge-base. Relationship with the environment:

Propelling pupils into scenarios that teach them first hand about our relationship with nature, the environment and natural resource can help them to develop a sense of responsibility for the planet, for future generations and for the effects of our actions on people across the globe. This could be through relationships with researchers, wildlife centres and video links to schools in more vulnerable parts of the planet, for example. In this proposal, a framework is constructed for organizations across Swindon to develop strong relationships with the school for reciprocal benefit. The choice of site positions the school in an ideal location for developing relationships with a wide range of organizations within close proximity [Fig. 5.2]. Throughout the school day, pupils move around the school and the town to acquire skills in an enriched and structured way. As pupils progress, they are given greater responsibility for their own education as a means of preparing them for adult life. As they approach adulthood, they will spend increasingly large amounts of their time undertaking educational activity outside the school walls, whilst meeting regularly with school and industry mentors to monitor their


increasingly theirmovement focus inward, protecting in themselves progress. turned This pupil is illustrated a timelineagainst on the exterior


world even though the learning processthe hasday become a continuous cycle. the pages that follow. It describes in terms of activity,

location, educational strand and relationships between public


and private areas, and includes examples of the specific


The school must effectively reaffirm its role in society as a powerful public institution

nature of public-private collaborations.

and integral player in shaping urban environments and community life. Research

The design facilitates the urban approach to

demonstrates that schools are important factors in influencing the economic strength

pedagogy by weaving itself into the life and activity of the

of surrounding communities. New technologies and media provide new opportunities

people strategyand of expand dissolving boundary to town rethinkand theits school as a using serviceaprovider its economic impact. conditions and mixed-use. At the urban level, the school

Typical urban school: object within urban fabric

The school should become more transparent and railway engaged line with society, instead of dissolves the boundary created by the to turning away the fromnorth it, especially in light thethe facttown, that information reconnect and south sidesof of becoming is everywhere


and can be accessed fromjuncture. anywhere.At The process continuous within the a bustling pedestrian thelearning building level,is unlike


environment of new media; the school must take on a much greater role in teaching

a typical school today, the proposal is a penetrable part of

its students to be critical of information deriving from this environment. The school

the town with a new public space at its centre. The boundary


must embrace digital technologies but teach students to critically engage them,

of the school is not a perimeter fence, but a series of open

utilizing these technologies to foster a greater understanding that all citizens can

gateways: large openings in the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mass that invite

have a powerful voice in society. It must challenge students to move away from

the public into the square. The school integrates itself at a

homogenous views by immersing them in the diverse world.

programmatic level through mixed-use, bringing together


DESIGN SPECULATIONS the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s teaching and learning space with public service, SPECULATION 1. and The school should not operate as anthat isolated object within the retail, offices the Arts. It becomes a space is used

Speculation I: school decentralized within urban fabric

by all, whether for business, education or leisure. The

urban environment. It must simultaneously stand apart from while dissolving into the urban landscape in order to foster diverse connections that facilitate unity, growth,

components are brought together as a single building form

conflict, and contradiction. Contemporary students must learn to critically analyze the

to increase the sense of cohesion. The public square gives it

mediated environment, which is everywhere. The school should activate public space

a communal feeling, whilst the fragmentation invites people




in the cityscape to emphasize the importance of tactile interaction and engage the

into that space. Internally, the boundaries between public and

mediated space of the city.

private areas within the school are dissolved to create the

I. This might suggest decentralization of the school in order to encourage students to

sense of inclusiveness and techniques are developed to allow

actively participate in the terrain of the urban environment.

to happen at the suggest same time necessary II. this Alternatively, it might that as themaintaining school building envelop other public security.inCombined, thesewith strategies result in aSchool building thatsuch as libraries, institutions order to interact the public at large. facilities is both engaging and receiving. auditoriums, gymnasiums, and theaters could be opened up for public use. Public and

Speculation II: school as amulgamation of civic/community institutions Fig. 5.3


Speculations on the future of the relationship between school and town (Bollom, 2009, p. 3).

Sharing facilities


As the school becomes an integrated part of the town, it begins to share facilities with other organisations. This way the school and its pupils can benefit from the best facilities that the town has to offer, without the same capital expenditure required to build their own facilities. In turn, this means the budget for building the school can be more targeted to specific needs that cannot be found nearby. Within very close proximity to the site of the proposal is the Oasis Leisure Centre, which offers a range of quality indoor and outdoor sport and leisure facilities. A large expansion is planned for the near future, which will turn the area into a leisure “destination”, including an indoor ski-slope (BBC news, 2012). In addition, there is a shortage of arts facilities in the town and the council has outlined a need for a new theatre (Swindon Borough Council, 2009, p. 48). It is therefore proposed that in this specific case, the school provides only basic sports facilities on-site (outdoor pitches and a dance studio), instead utilising the nearby facilities that offer more diversity and making greater investment in high quality theatre and performing arts facilities (which may be eligible for arts council funding given the public use). This strategy of reciprocation increases the intensity of use during what would otherwise be ‘off-peak’ periods, therefore increasing the economic viability of both the leisure centre and the theatre.


Fig. 5.4

The Oasis Leisure Centre: A £65m refurbishment and expansion will transform the site into a tourist ‘destination’.

Activity timeline: overview Movement and activities through school and town


Guidance: Scheme axonometric diagram describing public/ private area changes during that time & locations of school users and activities

Scheme overview and educational nodes diagrams; keys

Description of public/ private area changes & of public activities. Educational activity icons: who the pupil is learning with, whether staff, member of school community, or member of the public; how active the learning is in relation to group size, from individual study to lecture style; and which of the core objectives of education each activity relates to.


Fig. 5.5

Description of activity for each of the school users

Location of activity in Swindon, and pupil and public people flows.



Fig. 5.6


Typical day timeline 00:00-11:00

Example: 09:00-11:00 Public private area changes: Early in the morning the large social space at ground floor is reserved for pupils. At 1000, after the assembly, it opens to the public, becoming red on the timeline. Similarly, the library opens at 0900. A public workshop is held in the community learning node, so this becomes red too. Nature of collaborations: Pupil 1 participates in the intergenerational learning workshop with members of the public, led by one of the school’s teachers as pupil 1 is too young to work alone with non school-members. In this workshop, a demonstation is given by the teacher before pupils work directly with groups of adults to help them learn. This contributes to Pupil 1’s citizenship education. Pupil 2 finds a quiet space to undertake private, self-led study. The pupil uses their personal mobile device to search for articles about changing public perception of ex-servicemen who commit crime upon their return from war. This is primarily related to fulfilling the educational objective of ‘engaging with knowledge’ but also helps develop the new literacy skills of searching, collating and discerning. Pupil 3 works with a member of the school community (orange) from Honda UK. The seminar involves elements of group work and one-to-one tutoring in electronics and computing design. The pupils conduct valuable and meaningful research in collaboration with Honda, which can help them secure work after their full-time school years. Pupil 4 is beginning the transition from school to employment. Once a week, a full morning is spent undertaking practical experience with a local employer, who has already pledged to take on the pupil full-time once their formal education has finished.

Fig. 5.5



Typical day timeline 11:00-17:00


Fig. 5.5


Typical day timeline 17:00-23:00


Fig. 5.5



An urban approach to pedagogy has been adopted to enrich education and address social and technical change. By positioning itself at the heart of its social and economic context, the school becomes part of the lifeblood of the town and is at one with its needs and function. This strategy allows pupils to move outwards beyond the school to seek the most effective ways of pursuing all of the core objectives of education. The timeline has described the flow of people inwards and outwards from the school and gave examples of the activities that might be undertaken in the building and beyond. The following chapter looks more closely at the school itself and proposes a design strategy for facilitating public use of the school throughout the day.

Fig. 5.7


6 138

institutional porosity the school as part of the town

design proposal


â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the major challenges for planners in the twenty-first century is how to indicate in the architecture of a school an opening and welcome gesture to the community, while ensuring the security and safety of those within.â&#x20AC;? Burke and Grosvenor 2008, p. 188



This chapter addresses the third design challenge: the relationship between public and private space within the building. Institutional porosity is about bringing people into the school to create a sense of inclusion and public space, whilst maintaining security for pupils. Porosity of the boundary into the school allows collaborations to occur that benefit the whole community. Opening the school could offer opportunities for intergenerational learning- a two-way exchange of skills and knowledge. Studies have shown this to increase productivity in the workplace and improve mutual understanding. It offers better opportunities for â&#x20AC;&#x153;successful ageingâ&#x20AC;? in terms of social and mental wellbeing (see Harper, 2009 p. 22), especially for those without younger family. A porous boundary also affords younger pupils similar links with the community and businesses within the confines and security of the school proper. Representatives could visit the school or collaborate with pupils through modes of audio-visual communication such as augmented reality. These relationships can be developed as pupils pass up through the school and potentially beyond. The teaching community of the school is therefore greatly expanded from the norm to include business people, researchers, academics and community groups. The pupil community expands from exclusively children to include people of all ages and from all walks of life. Further examples of people who may use the school are detailed on the following pages.

This expanded user group poses the question: How can you make a school a public

building, whilst maintaining security for younger or more vulnerable pupils?

Historical precedents of public use of schools will be outlined first, before this challenge is explored through the design for the proposal. In making the building public it must first be inviting from the outside; this will be described in the approach to the building and the nature of the public square. Once inside the building, the challenge has been addressed through 3 key intersections between the public and the pupils: the library, the community learning node and the theatre foyer and restaurant. The favoured solution in this case was found to be through manipulation of the floor-plate and through areas of overlap between public and private programme. It is proposed that these methods create a subtlety of boundary that permits a secure separation whilst retaining the sense that the building is for the whole public.


Fig. 6.1: School users The â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;inner schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; consists of the schools primary users: its 500 pupils and staff. In addition to these, there is a school community of approximately 2300 adults. This community includes parents, local businesspeople, alumni, local academics and elected members, who would be in some way involved in the delivery of education on an occasional basis. In addition to these people, the general public can use certain parts of the school, and experts from further afield may be invited to come and teach as a one-off.

Who will use the school? Pupils, teachers and staff The main users of the school will be its pupils, aged between 11 and 18.


Start-up businesses Start-up or enterprise businesses might rent office space from the school and could hire the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resources such as the workshops or laboratories. A requirement for this kind of space has been recognised by Swindon council (Swindon Borough Council, 2007b, p. 14).

Job-seekers People could use the school as a resource for acquiring new skills, including life-long learning, and for help finding work.

Elderly learners Some people may need additional support as they get older to learn about new technological developments that can assist in their daily needs and help them avoid social isolation.

Local employers Swindon has a number of large-scale national and international businesses. Close collaboration with the school can help ensure that pupils have the necessary skills to be competitive in the job market. The school could help learners of all ages attain jobs and reduce the amount of training required.

Researchers Several of the UK research councils are located close to the school. The researchers may wish to use some of the facilities of the school or gain assistance from pupils in their research.

Parents Some parents might want to be actively engaged in the school’s operation. “Folk-educators” such as these can bring specialist knowledge to the school for the benefit of the pupils. This is similar to the Reggio Emilia approach.

Immigrants The school can act as a resource for immigrants to integrate into society and the economy. They may wish to develop language, literacy and ICT skills, for example.

Community groups Community groups may wish to collaborate with the school in working towards meeting local needs. They could use the school as a platform for debate and could work with the pupils to achieve their aims.

Local people Local people may wish to take evening classes at the school or use the library. They may simply want to meet friends and relax in the public square or cafe.

Arts groups Local theatre and dance groups could use the theatre facilities for training and performances in the evenings.


Community use: precedent - 1930s


The concept of community inclusion in schools is not new; the idea can be traced back to Henry Morris’s Village Colleges in Cambridgeshire (Hacker et al, 1976, p. 1032). The most notable of these, Impington College, designed by Walter Gropius with Maxwell Fry and completed in 1939, served as a school during the day and an adult community education centre in the evenings for the surrounding villages [Fig 6.2]. In writing about the scheme, Fry stressed the importance of the “seamless move between being a pupil and a young adult, using the same site for learning” (Burke and Grosvenor, p. 90). This transition is still a relevant issue today, and forms an important part of the ethos of the proposed school.

Fig. 6.2: Impington Village College

j d


f m



m a



2 4






Fig. 6.3: Typical school use




16 14


10 12

Community use: precedent - 1970s


Fig. 6.4: Hypothetical District Centre, DES development group

Community inclusion was revived in the 1960s, and again in the ‘70s by the The Architect and Building branch of the Department of Education and Science, who argued that, in the context of the financial crises of the time, it was more important than ever to fully utilise the facilities offered by school buildings as a community resource, beyond typical school hours. It proposed that community services, such as health care, post offices or council offices could be brought to the same site as schools and pool resource [Fig. 6.4]. Extending the use of the school would increase the “educational and leisure opportunities for the whole community”, with the added benefit that “some of the problems associated with the separation of school pupils from adult society could be overcome” (Hacker et al, 1976, p.1032). It is interesting to note how relevant these issues are in today’s social and economic climate. Unfortunately, like Morris’s village colleges, the implementation of this strategy did not become widespread.

Community use: today


There has again been a drive for better community inclusion in schools, including government papers Building Bulletins 95 and 98 and Schools-Achieving Success (2001), which promote the provision of public services on school sites. Although community use of schools has become more common under the BSF programme, it is still typically limited to evening use of a few spaces, such as flexible multi-use space, or sports facilities. Building Bulletin 98 provides a planning diagram for schools that advises a spatial adjacency strategy for this exact approach to community provision (DfES, 2004a, p. 16).

Fig. 6.5: School organisational diagram, Building Bulletin 98 (p. 16): Community facilities are ring-fenced and accessed adjacent to the main entrance, open only after school hours. In this model the vast majority of the school is inaccessible to the public.

Proposal: public-private overlap

In response to the research that has informed it, this thesis proposes to go beyond historic precedent in the UK and integrates community inclusion that can happen throughout the whole day. The architecture of the school is reconsidered therefore in order to support this change in ethos and catalyse public participation [Fig. 6.6]. At ground level, all sides of the public square contain publicly accessible programme, the faรงade is transparent and the building is porous and inviting; the informality of the ground-floor spaces and the public activity that colours them should help dispel any reservations that people may continue to hold (based on historical precedent) that the school is not open to them.

School Library



Retail/Council offices Business enterprise Theatre Porosity of boundary at ground level

Fig. 6.6


Approach and entry


The buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s massing is articulated so that it encourages public participation. Like the relationship between public and private space within the building, the boundary between the school and the town is blurred. From all approaches, the visitor is welcomed by large openings in the building form that invite entry into the square. Addressing the town along the south edge is lettable retail and business enterprise space. This mixed-use function of the school weaves it into the urban fabric and announces to people arriving that this is not an exclusive environment for children; it is a public building that provides multiple services. The building mass is deliberately contained as a single form, expressing that it is a single building. This form, sliced open by the geometry of its context, affords clarity in the concept of the school as a node. It permits an erosion of the edges and a fragmentation of programme without it becoming an agglomeration of buildings.

Fig. 6.7



Fig. 6.8

Large gateways announce the presence of public space from all approach directions


Position of viewpoint


Fig. 6.9

Entry from station

Position of viewpoint


Fig. 6.10 Entry from town centre

Position of viewpoint

Public Square The formal geometry of the proposal and the enclosure of the central space create a sense of arrival onto the site as a destination. The idea is to create a sense that once you are inside the square you are to some extent inside the school, as opposed to being in a space that is between parts of the school. This enhances the concept of the school as a destination in itself, a nodal point on the north-south connection of the town, rather than a through-route. The transparent and opening facades that 154

surround the square make clear the rich public activity within, creating intrigue and attraction. From the outside, the building is more like a museum or gallery than it is a school. Fig. 6.11


Interior strategy


Once inside the building, the extent to which the public can move around is defined partly by the manipulation of the floor plate and partly through areas of overlapping public and private programme, which change from one to the other periodically throughout day to create a shifting boundary. Importantly, even at times when the public cannot interact directly with the pupils, they could share the same volume of space. On the other hand, it is important that the pupils can seek privacy for conducting their studies, so there is a part of the school dedicated to child-pupil. This area remains exclusively for pupils in the evenings too, for those who wish to continue their studies in a secure and relaxing environment beyond normal school hours. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;Activity Timelineâ&#x20AC;? in chapter 6: Pedagogical Urbanism, illustrates how areas of the school shift from public to private use throughout a typical school day.

Fig. 6.12 Pupil only area



Fig. 6.13: Boundary condition strategies


Fig. 6.14: Key public-private overlap areas



The first of the three key intersections, the library, staggers the floor plates to create a separation between public and pupil users in a non-hierarchical way, before opening fully in the evening for public use. The space is simultaneously a research resource for pupils and an inviting, informal library for the public. For public use, it is seen as a satellite to the central library on the other side of town, with a focus primarily on digital resource and access to networks. The public and private floor areas alternate at half-levels, meeting only at the ground floor, with the librarianâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s desk acting as a partition. The floors are separated by a void that floods daylight into the building with a stair at each end; one public, one private. The staggering of the floor plates allows shared

Fig. 6.15: Physical sketch model as part of design development, showing separation of public (red) and private (green).

use of the building without direct contact, in a way that does not prioritise one user group over the other.

Fig. 6.16: Spatial and material quality precedent: Liyuan Library, China, Li Xiaodong Atelier. The informal stepped seating arrangement is adopted for the proposal, following the contours of the site to the west.


Fig. 6.17

member of school

member of public Fig. 6.18 Library final proposal

Community learning node

The spaces within the community-learning node can be used in a number of different ways throughout the day. The large ground floor social space is open to the public, but can be reserved for whole-school assembly when required. Generally speaking, the space is a public one. A typical use could be for temporary exhibitions. The community learning classrooms are intentionally informal spaces that can be configured to suit a variety of group sizes and create varying degrees of intimacy. These spaces form the main interface between members of the public and the pupils. Here they come together to learn from one another and alongside one another, during the school day and in the in a number of ways: it addresses trends in “generations and the lifecourse” by providing space for intergenerational and lifelong learning; trends in “state market third sector” by allowing people from outside the school to be directly involved in teaching; and trends in identity, community and citizenship, by providing space for pupils to work closely with


evening. This responds to the outcomes of the BCH research printer


Fig. 6.19: Public/private entry

member of school

community groups. In addition, the social space is connected to the main assembly hall, a space for engaging people in public debate and decision making, which reinforces this.

member of public

The node is spread across all three floors and has its own private stair, so can be programmatically separate from the rest of the building when it needs to be. During all times, it maintains a strong visual link with the rest of the school and feels like an integral part of it in its spatial and material quality.

Fig. 6.20: Public use


Fig. 6.21

Fig. 6.22

Theatre restaurant and foyer


In a similar way to the library, the theatreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foyer-cafĂŠ has staggered floors and voids that create a strong visual link between public and pupil use. The ground floor is always open to the public. During the day it is an informal cafĂŠ space, in the evening it becomes a bar and foyer to the theatre. Only pupils use the upper floors during the day; the second floor is used as the school restaurant. This space might feature robust furniture that is suitable for pupil use, but is appealing enough to become a public restaurant in the evening [Fig. 6.24]. The theatre and its foyer and restaurant areas are dynamic public spaces that are open late into the evening, providing light and activity to the regenerated railway underpass. Profit from public use of the restaurant subsidises food for pupils. Like the theatre and sports facilities, the investment in better kitchen and restaurant facilities is permitted by increased utilisation across more hours of every day and weekend. In addition to the economic benefits, sharing facilities in this way is informed by the research that argues that schools should be more integrated with their communities for wider social benefits.

Fig. 6.23

Fig. 6.24

School restaurant: Robust, stylish and easy to clean furniture is suitable for pupil use in the day and public in the evening.


Fig. 6.25

Fig. 6.26

member of school

member of public



Adopting a new strategy that weaves schools into the urban fabric will better equip them to rediscover their role, responsibility and strength as a force for change that acts in the interest of its community in a fair and democratic way. The school provides a resource for people to come for help in pursuing their dreams, and a platform for communities to come together to make collective decisions about the future. A design strategy has been developed for bringing the public into the school without compromising safety. A non-hierarchical atmosphere is created through careful articulation of the boundary conditions and a playful dissection of volumes in key public-private junctions. The issue of community inclusion and the school as a driver of social change has persisted in educational discourse time and again: it was recently raised by the BCH report and was interestingly also mentioned 10 years ago in Building Bulletin 95 (2002, p. 3). In this sense, it is disappointing that community inclusion in schools was not integrated more comprehensively in the later years of BSF. Instead, it tended to be limited to after-hours use of sports facilities and multi-use space. There has, until now, been a lack of a resolved strategy for implementing community inclusion fully. This proposal provides one such strategy, which, it is hoped, can be built upon to inform future school design. This strategy reinforces the links with other organisations and community groups that were discussed in Chapter 5 by providing space for people to engage with the school on a regular basis and at any time of day, whether for work, learning or leisure. Furthermore, the organisational model conceived in Chapter 4 compliments the community inclusion discussed here: a loose-fit approach to space permits a gradation of the boundary between public and private areas. This is particularly effective in the community learning node, where a strong visual and spatial relationship is held between public and private areas deep within the building. This node facilities the participation of external people in the delivery of education, which, in turn, enriches the personalised model of education. When combined, the way the three design elements have been addressed support the school in its quest to become â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;future-buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.

Fig. 6.27. A close relationship between public and private areas







It is evident from the research that emerging social, technical and pedagogical change could lead to radical and exciting new directions for our education system in coming years. Leading educational theorists are calling for schools to become more integrated into their social and economic contexts, and for a reconsideration of time and space in their use. Given these changes, it is argued in this thesis that school designs that assume exclusivity for children and organizational models that are centred on the cellular classroom will no longer be the most appropriate strategies. Both these changes imply interesting design challenges for architects to engage with and this design thesis proposes one such solution for a school building to go beyond ‘future-proof’ to become a platform for change. A new architectural vision has been proposed that opens the school to all members of the public and organizes the teaching and learning space as a series of nodes that are designed as educational resources for different kinds of pedagogical activity. The school seeks to become interwoven into the life and activity of the town and its people through its nodal position, its fragmented form, its mixed-uses and by dissolving boundary conditions. This thesis aims to make a significant contribution to current discourse about the relationship between educational theory and architecture by bringing recent social technical and pedagogical research into a design context and proposing a spatial response for the first time. In addition, by suggesting a physical manifestation of how this particular educational vision might emerge, the thesis adds a new dimension to the existing research on which it is built and sparks further conversation about whether or not this is a desirable direction for the future of education. In working towards realising the aspirations of a ‘future-building’ school, 3 key design challenges emerged. The first of these was developing a strategy for the spatial organisation of the school. As an understanding of contemporary pedagogy was developed, a number of design iterations were explored that first saw the gradual and complete dissolving of the classroom to open space, before coming back together again as a series of spaces that vary in size and environmental character, each designed for a different type of activity and connected by more open space (see appendix 1). The second challenge was the relationship between the school and the town. The school is to have connections with external organisations, it is to be a public building and it is to be an integrated fragment of the town itself. A strategy was adopted to make the school a nodal point in the town, reinforced by the connection of the north and south sides of the town across the railway. Large gateways were cut from the simple form that relate to the urban grain surrounding it, leading to a large public square in the centre with transparent and open facades that draw the public into the different building fragments. The final challenge was the relationship between public and private space within the building. The aim here was to create a sense of inclusiveness and to minimise any feeling of “them and us” in relation to

pupils and the public, at the same time as ensuring the safety. The intention was for the scheme to feel equally a public building and a school. This was achieved through careful articulation of the boundaries between users; through changing user groups during different times of day and through using voids and level changes instead of glazed screens or solid walls. The future of education could follow a number of directions in coming years as a result of emerging social and technical change. At opposite ends of the scale, the school could completely dissolve into the urban landscape and cease to exist physically, or the trend for everincreasing security measures could lead to island-like schools that isolate children from adult society. This thesis believes in the value of the school as a physical institution and the benefits of creating community cohesion across all generations, so proposes an architecture that can support an alternative vision. The model of education for which this proposal is designed makes a number of assumptions about the future, which may make the design unsuitable for wholehearted implementation in today’s educational context in the UK. Perhaps most fundamentally, it is based on a highly personalised model of education that requires teachers to become “facilitators” rather than “conduits of knowledge” (Futurelab, 2009, p. 90) and demands much more self-motivation from pupils. Both these changes would likely require a transition period and significant changes in attitude to be adopted successfully without repeating the failings of the open-plan primary school movement. A whole new approach to teacher training would be required and pupils would need to be taught how to lead their own education from a young age. In this sense, an ‘all-through’ school model may more appropriate than a secondary-only one, so to not rely on the surrounding primary schools to follow the same educational agenda. Furthermore, it requires self-drive from members of the public to come to the school to help themselves and requires commitment from businesses and other organisations to develop the necessary relationships with the school for reciprocal benefit and shared use. There are also concerns about child safety and monitoring whilst pupils are off-site. To mitigate this issue, the proposal relies heavily on the development and widespread adoption of particular mobile technologies that some may find invasive and contentious. Nevertheless, the strategies adopted within the proposal could still inform the design of progressive thinking schools today that aspire to become ‘future-building’. Community inclusion continues to reoccur in educational discourse and has been pushed in a number of government papers, yet there is a lack of an appropriate strategy for implementing it effectively. This thesis has proposed a strategy that blurs the boundary between public and private areas to facilitate better integration of diverse user-groups into the operation of the school. As a public service, re-imagining the school as a mixed-use building with lettable commercial space could be more difficult to implement. However, the school can seek to better integrate itself into its



context in other ways, such as through its form, its articulation and the way it addresses the street. Instead of high fences, the interface with the public could be more receiving by the addition of public services such as healthcare and a library, as was proposed in the 1970s. This could be one way to integrate the school into the life of the town without a commercial aspect.

Finally, the design of teaching and learning spaces could today draw cues from

this project in finding ways to diversify the spatial experience of the school. The concept of ‘personalised learning’ has gained pace in recent years and creates different requirements of space. Whilst education continues to rely heavily on subject-based curricula and standardised testing, there is likely to be a persistent requirement for regular classrooms. However, the strategy of nodes and in-between space could be adapted to develop an alternative spatial structure that is better suited to the immediate future and could, in coming years, inform the possible reconfiguration of the ‘future-proof’ schools of BSF. Similarly the free-schools movement will require schools to inhabit existing buildings of varying origins. An interesting further study would be to explore ways of adapting and reconfiguring these design strategies to such buildings. Swindon provides an excellent testing ground for developing a network of ‘futurebuilding’ schools and the proposal represents an exciting opportunity to catalyse its regeneration, particularly as good schools draw families into their catchment. The ‘future-building’ school could amplify this effect: as businesses begin to understand the benefits of close relationships with schools, they may also seek to be within the catchment of such a school. Furthermore, Swindon’s high proportion of NEETs, yet relatively low levels of unemployment, strengthens the case for closer relationships between schools and businesses in this area. Swindon provides a blank canvas to develop a progressive educational framework and to become the first futurebuilding town: it has no schools its centre, which will need to become more densely inhabited to counter the negative effects of sprawl, particularly with the town’s planned population increase. Additional schools will therefore be inevitable. But can a new precedent be set? In meeting this new demand should we be following the last 10 years and ‘Building Schools for the Future’, or can we instead design ‘Schools for Building the Future’?

Fig. 7.1




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Facer, K. and Sandford, R. (2010), The next 25 years?: future scenarios and future directions for education and technology, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (2010), 26, 74â&#x20AC;&#x201C;93 Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios (unknown) Places for Leaning, available from: FINAL. Pdf, accessed 22.03.2011 Fisher, K. (2001) Building Better Outcomes: The impact of school infrastructure on student outcomes and behaviour, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, available at:, accessed, 3.1.2011. Fisher, K. (2005), Linking Pedagogy and Space, Department of Education and Training, Victoria, Australia Futurelab (2006), What If: Re-imagining learning spaces, Futurelab, Bristol Futurelab (2009) Educational, social and technological futures: a report from the Beyond Current Horizons Programme, Futurelab, Bristol, Gislason, N. (2009), School Design: History, Case Studies and Practice, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Toronto Gislason, N. (2010) Architectural design and the learning environment: A framework for school design research, Learning Environments Research, Volume 13, number 2, 127-145. Green, F. (2009) The growing importance of generic skills, a review conducted as part of the Beyond Current Horizons programme, Futurelab, Bristol Hacker, M., Forrester, D. and Rattenbury, P (1976) School and Community: provision for joint use and sharing in a changing world, Architects Journal, vol. 163, no. 21, 1976 May 26, p. 1032-1058. Harrison, A. (2009) Changing Spaces, changing places, part of the Beyond Current Horizons programme, Futurelab, Bristol Harper, S. (2009), Demographic Change, Generations and the life course, Futurelab, Bristol, www. Haste, H. (2009), Identity, Communities and Citizenship, Futurelab, Bristol, Heppell (Ed.) (2004), Building Learning Futures, Ultralab, CABE/RIBA Building Futures Programme, available from, accessed 04.04.2012 Higgins, S. (2009) Learning to Learn, Futurelab, Bristol,

Higgins, S., Hall, E., Wall, K., Woolner, P., McCoughy, C. (2005) The Impact of School Environments: A literature review, University of Newcastle, for the Design Council, available at: Documents/Publications/The%20Impact%20of%20Schoo%20Environments_Design_Council.pdf, accessed: 25.11.2010. James, S., (2011) Review of Education Capital, available from: capital%20review%20final%20report%20 april%202011.pdf, accessed 01.09.2011 Jewitt, C. (2009), Knowledge, creativity and communication, Futurelab, Bristol, Kershaw, A. (11.06.2012) The Government introduces tougher curriculum to boost standards,, available from:, accessed 12.07.2012 Maya, B. (2007) The five key educational philosophies, Helium, available from:, accessed 28.02.2011 Mortimore, P. (1993), School Effectiveness and the Management of Effective Learning and Teaching, School Effectiveness and School Improvement: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice 4:4, 290-310 Nair,P., Fielding,R., Lackney,J. (2009) The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools, DesignShare. com, USA OMA (2012) OMA/Progress Exhibition, Barbican, London Robinson, K. (2010) Changing Education Paradigms, lecture for the RSA Animate series, available online at: http:// Robson E. R. (1877, 2nd ed.) School architecture: being practical remarks on the planning, designing, building and furnishing of school-houses. London: John Murray Rudd, T. (2008), Redesigning Education: modelling transformation through co-design around BSF, Futurelab: Transforming Schools For The Future? February, Bristol Rychan, D. and Salganik, L. (2003) Key competencies for a successful life and well-functioning society, Hogrefe, Oxford Sandford, R. (2009) State/Market/Third sector, Futurelab, Bristol,



Schneider, M. (2002) Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes? National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, available at:, accessed 29.11.2010. Space4PL (2008) Space for Personalised Learning:, Project Summary, Space4PL & Department for Children, Schools and Families, available from:, accessed 28.07.2011 Stevenson, K. (2007), Educational Trends Shaping School Planning and Design: 2007, National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, available at:, accessed 24.11.2010. Swindon Borough Council, (2007a), Swindon Central Area Action Plan, Swindon Borough Council, available from: http://[1].pdf, accessed 18.02.2012 Swindon Borough Council, (2007b), Swindon Economic Development Vision and Framework, available from: http://www., accessed 12.02.2011 Swindon Borough Council (2007c), Swindon Central Canal Route Study, Halcrow Limited. Swindon Borough Council (2009) Swindon Core Strategy and Development Management Policies, Swindon Borough Council, available from, accessed 06.02.2012 Swindon Borough Council (2010) Draft NEET strategy summary, Swindon Borough Council, available from: http://ww5., accessed 26.05.2012 Swindon Borough Council (2011), Swindon Borough Local Plan 2011, Swindon Borough Council Tanner, K. (2000) The influence of school architecture on academic achievement, Journal of Educational Administration. Armidale, Vol. 38, Iss. 4; pg. 309 Thomas, K., (2006) Open thinking and open spaces, An interview with Bruce Jilk, Architect and educational consultant, Futurelab, available from:, accessed 01.07.2012 Wilson, R. (2009) The Future of Work and Implications for Education, Futurelab, Bristol,

List of figures

Cover image Figure 0.1 Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2 Figure 1.3 Figure 1.4 Figure 1.5 Figure 1.6 Figure 1.7 Figure 1.8 Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4 Figure 2.5 Figure 2.6 Figure 2.7 Figure 2.8 Figure 2.9 Figure 2.10 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.4 Figure 3.5 Figure 3.6 Figure 3.7 Figure 3.8 Figure 3.9 Figure 3.10 Figure 3.11 Figure 3.12 Figure 3.13 Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6 Figure 4.7 Figure 4.8 Figure 4.9

Linhart, S. (2012), source: Urban Educational Network [By Author] Follow your Dreams, graffiti art by Banksy. Source meh.ro5021.jpg "We dont ned no education" Photograph, Redboy, Source: need-no-education/ Rendered visual of proposal [By Author] Network of urban educational resource [By Author] Plan diagram [By Author] Plan diagram: inner school [By Author] Diagrammatic Axonometric [By Author] Physical model/ CAD montage: proposal overview [By Author] Location plan [By Author] Site Plan [By Author] Swindon's schools [By Author] Swindon: Characteristics Site connections, overlaid onto photo of Allies and Morrisson Architects' model of Swindon [By Author] Site Aerial, modified from Bing Maps [By Author] Site Panorama 1 [By Author] Site Panorama 2 [By Author] Site Photo [By Author] Site Photo [By Author] Covers of BCH report (Futurelab 2009) and Learning Futures (Facer, 2011) BCH structure diagram [By Author] Child use of ipad for learning. Source: Classroom through time, Design Council (2005) Intergenerational learning. Source: Intergenerational learning. Source: steps-toward.html Education cuts protest. Source accessed 27.07.2012 Network of urban educational resource [By Author] "Dole Street." Source: the-new-jobless-generation.html Apprenticesips. Source: Swindon Academy. Source: School plan types, Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios (year unknown) Vinh, S. (2011), source: Exam hall. Source: Fisher, K., (2005) Finmere Primary School plan, source: plowden1-28.html Screen grab from 'TED talk' Robnison (2010) source: changing_education_paradigms.html Exemplar proposal, DfES (2004b) Exemplar proposal, DfES (2004b) Fisher, K., (2005) Fisher, K., (2005) School in Reykjavik, Plan, Bruce Jilk. Source: Free_Create.htm



Figure 4.10 Figure 4.11 Figure 4.12 Figure 4.13 Figure 4.14 Figure 4.15 Figure 4.16 Figure 4.17 Figure 4.18 Figure 4.19 Figure 4.20 Figure 4.21 Figure 4.22 Figure 4.23 Figure 4.24 Figure 4.25 Figure 4.26 Figure 4.27 Figure 4.28 Figure 4.29 Figure 4.30 Figure 4.31 Figure 4.32 Figure 4.33 Figure 4.34 Figure 4.35 Figure 4.36 Figure 4.37 Figure 4.38 Figure 4.39 Figure 4.40 Figure 4.41 Figure 4.42 Figure 5.1 Figure 5.2 Figure 5.3 Figure 5.4 Figure 5.5 Figure 5.6 Figure 5.7 Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2 Figure 6.3 Figure 6.4 Figure 6.5 Figure 6.6 Figure 6.7 Figure 6.8 Figure 6.9

International School, Brussels, plan, Fielding Nair International. Source: Network of urban educational resource [By Author] Physical model/ CAD montage: proposal overview [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo, with elements from Fisher, K., (2005), [By Author] Ground Floor Plan [By Author] First Floor Plan [By Author] Second Floor Plan [By Author] Section [By Author] Copper faรงade photo, Steven Holl, Source: Copper faรงade photo, Steven Holl, Source: Copper faรงade mesh views from inside [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] CAD render [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] CAD render [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author] Sectional Perspective Detail [By Author] Outdoor learning space. CAD render [By Author] Performance node. Model photograph [By Author] Library. Model photograph [By Author] Ecology corridor. Model photograph [By Author] Loose-fit art space. Model photograph [By Author] Loose fit art space. CAD render [By Author] Assembly Hall. Model photographs [By Author] Assembly Hall, material precedent. Serpentine gallery pavilion 2012, Herzog and de Meuron with Ai Wei Wei. Source: serpentine-gallery-pavilion-2012/ View of square. Model photograph [By Author] Physical model/ CAD montage: proposal overview [By Author] Network of urban educational resource [By Author] Relationship between school and context. Bollom, R. (2009) Oasis leisure centre. Source: Pupil activity timeline [By Author] Successful pupil attributes CAD render- view approach [By Author] School user diagram [By Author] Impington College Plan. Burke and Grosvenor (2008) School use patterns [By Author] School communtiy use: Hypothetical district centre, Hacker et al, 1976 School organisational diagram. DfES (2004a) Ground floor porosity [By Author] Physical model/ CAD montage: proposal overview [By Author] CAD render- view approach [By Author] Physical model photo [By Author]

Figure 6.10 Figure 6.11 Figure 6.12 Figure 6.13 Figure 6.14 Figure 6.15 Figure 6.16 Figure 6.17 Figure 6.18 Figure 6.19 Figure 6.20 Figure 6.21 Figure 6.22 Figure 6.23 Figure 6.24 Figure 6.25 Figure 6.26 Figure 6.27 Figure 7.1

Physical model photo [By Author] CAD render [By Author] Pupil only area diagram [By Author] Public-private boundary conditions [By Author] Key public-private interface locations [By Author] Process model of library, photograph- public/private areas [By Author] Material precedent- Liyuan Library. Source: xiaodong/ Final model photograph [By Author] Library exploded isometric diagram [By Author] Community learning node plan: public/private entrance [By Author] Community learning node section: public/privateinteraction [By Author] Community learning node. Model photograph [By Author] Community learning node. Model photograph [By Author] Theatre foyer and restaurant: section showing public/private areas [By Author] Furniture precedent. Source: Theatre foyer and restaurant: model photpgraph [By Author] Theatre foyer and restaurant: model photpgraph [By Author] Library: a close relationship between public and private space [By Author] Model photograph [By Author]


Appendix 1: 180

selected design process key challenges


1 182

Relationship with town: opening the school

Traditional School: Closed to public

School opened and permeable: creating a new northsouth connection across the railway.


Making the school feel public: north-south connection Early iterations 184

Opt1: Subway

Opt 2: Bridge


Massing Studies: Public inclusion


Inner school- pupils and mentors only School community use- people associated with the school, includes lettable space Public space- open to all, cafe, shops, public services.


Development: Thoroughfare to node. 188


2 190

Spatial organisation of learning space

Early Development: Fragmenting the boundary of the classroom to create greater spatial variety


Typical Classroom

The design process of the teaching and learning spaces has seen a gradual and complete dissolution of the classroom

Development for pedagogical gains

into open, fluid space, before an eventual re-structuring of space into nodes that cater for different pedagogical activity.

Development for environmental gains

Pilot study: re-using the historic railway works


Fragmented classrooms and â&#x20AC;&#x153;in-betweenâ&#x20AC;? space

Post pilot-study development Post pilot-study design explorations: Integrating Immediate Flexibility and/or Long-term Adaptability Typical Classroom Groupings 193

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Strawberryâ&#x20AC;? Plan: Atrium

gradual and complete dissolving of the cellular environment as understanding of contemporary pedagogy develops



Understanding the activities of the school LECTURES














Reimagining learning space


The design began to apply some of the spatial requirements as outlined by Fisher (2005). This was a design exploration conducted in isolation from the rest of the building as a means of testing the relationship between spaces of varying activity.

Individual Study One-to-one Studio Large group/ Seminar

Support Space Small GroupStudio Kitchen/Social Courtyard garden

197 foyer/bar

24 students

ADMIN store

24 students

head PA

repo printer

printer fax


The last iteration before the development of the final design. This arrangement lacked a suitable logic for the structuring of space, and the development of the nodes and loose-fit concept emerged from a critical analysis of this design.




Relationship between public and private space: Site






Public-private overlap: Library




Public-private overlap: Community Learning Space




Community learning space iterations


Public-private boundary Public walkway


Public-private overlap: subway adjacency








Scale 1:200

public space

Appendix 2: 208

environmental studies


Supporting environmental studies A number of daylight and thermal analysis studies were conducted during the early stages of the research that helped to inform the development of the environmental design strategy throughout the process.


Building Bulletin 90 (DfEE, 1999), recommends that classrooms should have an average daylight factor of 5% or above to be considered daylit, but achieving this requires large areas of glazing, which can result in excessive heat loss or solar gain, as well as visual glare.

Glazing Area: 40% of External Wall Floor to Ceiling Height: 3m Dimensions: 8m (glazed side) x 7m (depth)

Building Bulletin 87 (DfES 2003b), p. 8), states that in order to avoid excessive heat loss, â&#x20AC;&#x153;vertical glazed areas should not normally exceed an average of 40% of the internal elevation of the external . A test was conducted using the environmental analysis software IESve to determine whether a daylight factor of 5% can be achieved with only 40% of the external wall glazed.

Typical window openings

3 scenarios were tested with a 3m floor to ceiling height and all show that the back of the space has a low daylight factor and that there is a big contrast across the space. A fourth scenario was then tested to try to improve the conditions. Ceiling height was increased to 3.5m and glazed area was increased to 50%. This allows light deeper into the space, but the daylight factor in the back 1/3 of the room is still less than 2.5%. The working plane analysis also shows a large contrast between the front and back, which would probably cause glare.

Clerestory window

To conclude, the study suggests that it will be very difficult to achieve a sufficient daylight factor with single-sided daylight.

Clerestory window with light shelf

Glazed Area: 50% of External Wall Floor to Ceiling Height: 3.5m


Working Plane Daylight Factor

Working Plane Average Daylight Factor







3m floor-ceiling 7m depth 40% Glazed Facade

3m floor-ceiling 7m depth 40% Glazed Facade



3m floor-ceiling 7m depth 40% Glazed Facade

DF (%) 10


3.5m floor-ceiling 7m depth 50% Glazed Facade




Precedent Section

Working Plane Daylight Factor

Working Plane Average Daylight Factor












Wren Academy: 6m floor-ceiling (upper) 3.5m floor-ceiling (lower) 8m depth




DF (%)








Mossbourne Academy: 3.5m floor-ceiling 8m depth (A&B) 6m Depth (C)




Design Iteration Working Plane Daylight Factor

Working Plane Average Daylight Factor









Pilot Study

Daylight Factor 0

IES thermal model:

No. of Occupants: 800 No. of Computers: 100 Volume: 39,570m3 Floor Area: 7,175m2 Opening Area: 2,796m2 Heating Set-point: 16oC Heating Plant Load (annual):


Cooling Set-point: 28oC Cooling Plant Load (annual):





The environmental strategy for the scheme was to heat the enclosed studio and classroom spaces to 22C, but for them to be sufficiently â&#x20AC;&#x153;leakyâ&#x20AC;? to heat the larger volume of the railway works to 16C. The original fabric of the works would be upgraded to ensure air-tightness and a low u-value. Using the large space below the existing roof as a semi-tempered climatic buffer zone significantly reduces the overall heating load, whilst still remaining comfortable for periods of informal learning for the majority of the year. However, the thermal analysis study, conducted using IESve demonstrates that the heating load would still be significantly higher than a well insulated new-build school. This is attributed to a much greater volume and external envelope than a typical school and the density of its occupation is much lower. It must be considered though that the higher annual heating load can be significantly offset against the drastically reduced embodied energy of the scheme compared to an equivalent new build.

Ventilation strategy Main teaching space




Stack locations

air leaves via large stack ventilation shafts


air enters space through acoustically attenuated floor grilles air entry to plenum adjacent to access road to north, where the ground level is lower

The primary ventilation source for the main teaching space is naturally driven stack ventilation. This can be assisted mechanically during particularly hot periods. Openable windows provide adaptive opportunity, but visual cues will advise when they should remain shut during particularly hot periods.

Beyond Futureproof - Matt Cooper  

The implications of social, technical and pedagogical change for the architecture of UK secondary schools

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