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Lee Newell 7005 MArch Specialist study

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

Evaluating the impact of Government budget cuts on primary school architecture and primary education.


Contents:

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Introduction:

6-7

Methodology:

8-9

Timeline of Key Events of Government Policy and Case Studies:

10-13

Primary school Procurement: Government Policy over the Last Decade:

14-15

Baseline Designs:

16-17

The Architectural Profession’s Response to the Emerging Policy:

18-19

Standardised Packages As An Alternative:

21 22-25 26-31 32-37 38-41 42-43 45

Case Studies: Basic Information: Sunesis Keynes2 / Ashcombe Primary School, Somerset: Lime Tree Primary Academy, Trafford: St Silas CE Primary School, Blackburn: Sandal Magna Community Primary School, Wakefield: A Comparative Analysis: Alongside Bespoke: Conclusions:

49 49 50-52

Bibliography: Image Credits: Online References:

53-55 56 57 58-60 61-62 63 64-65 66-67 68

Appendix A: Appendix B: Appendix C: Appendix D: Appendix E: Appendix F: Appendix G: Appendix H: Appendix I:

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standardised

Acknowledgements:

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Introduction:

Standardised schools or bespoke designs? This is an ongoing debate in the UK between the current government who see school buildings as simply being a building where good teaching and learning takes place and those who believe that the school building needs to also be a source of inspiration to aid the learning and teaching. “Standardisation within British schools is not exactly new. The UK’s biggest ever school building programme was not actually BSF but the construction of hundreds of Victorian Board Schools across the country in the late 19th century. With their distinctly red brickwork, tall sash windows, gable roofs and terracotta dressings these unmistakable buildings were essentially formed from a highly prescriptive yet extraordinary flexible palette of materials and accommodation mixes.” (Ijeh, 2012)

This study will attempt to analyse certain schools from the last decade, both using standardised and bespoke methods of architecture, in order to determine the best aspects of primary school design and how to apply these findings to future primary schools. Can a standardised method of architecture work for a primary school and if so is it the best option going forward for the future of architecture in the educational field? Are completely bespoke designs a thing of the past or can they continue to provide excitement and innovation in school design?

For a school to be successful it needs to provide the best teaching possible while aided by a building that amalgamates function with aesthetics in a high quality and desirable way while creating and providing great spaces from which great teaching and learning can thrive. “We need to avoid seeing the classroom as the only place in which children could learn, in turn providing a variety of spaces and create different spaces for children to learn in rather than just the boxed walls of a classroom” (Beswick, 2015). Not only does the school building need to be a source of inspiration for the children but for the teachers too, they need to have the opportunity to use the spaces and engage with the architecture to enhance the childrens’ experiences in school. “The key aim is to foster a love of learning in children and get them inspired.” (Hinchliff, 2015) furthermore “the basic fact being that if your not enjoying something then it is very unlikely that your going to learn anything because your not engaging it with the middle part of your brain, if children and/or staff aren’t engaged in the subject then it doesn’t work.” (Beswick, 2015).

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Methodology:

The way in which this study will attain the required information will be through conducting a detailed review of Architectural and functional qualities of selected schools through site visits, conducting interviews with appropriate personnel affiliated with the school, and through a range of secondary sources. These studies shall be chosen based upon whether the schools had been designed and built around the period of the Partnerships for schools (PfS) using the Primary Capital Programme (PCP) or Building for Schools (BSF) funding schemes, and comparing them to schools designed during and after the 2012 Educational Funding Agency (EFA) and the Department for Education (DfE) introduced the baseline designs through the Priority Schools Building Programme. (see Appendix?? for definitions and outline aims for each of the programmes above) This leads on to what will be achieved in this dissertation, by looking at a selection of key spaces and aspects of school design such as; classroom, circulation and shared space typologies, provisions of staff facilities, outdoor learning and play areas, overall building form (interior and exterior), interaction with the surrounding context, along with some interviews that will be conducted with various individuals associated with each of the schools. Finally a critical analysis of each of the case studies followed by a comparative analysis of all the chosen schools and an appropriate Baseline Design, will determine what needs to be achieved in the future of primary school design in the hope that it will incorporate the good and strong aspects of both standardised and bespoke designed schools. The following schools shall be analysed: Sunesis and Ashcombe Primary School: A series of pre-designed school buildings produced by Willmott Dixon in 2011. They are available in four differing primary school designs (Keynes2, Paxton2, Dewey and Newton) along with a further secondary school (Mondrian), which allows for a massively streamlined procurement process even when compared to the PSBP discussed later. The most popular school design, Keynes2, has been chosen to be analysed as it not only provides the most varied range of layouts, but also boasts 9 completed projects and 1 currently live project across the UK (correct as of Feb 2015). 6

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Lime Tree Primary Academy: The first school to be constructed using a new modular assembly system devised by Select, Laing O’Rourke plant hire company, in association with O’Rourke and Atkins Architects. The forest school, a state school that operates the national curriculum but prioritises outdoor learning, is a prime example of how bespoke design can be produced while using a completely standardised modular product. The system could well introduce a conceptually innovative method of school building during this post-BSF educational era. St Silas CE Primary School: The school represented Capita Symonds’ first venture into level 2 BIM on an entire project, with it they produced a completely bespoke design which became necessary from the outset due to the nature of the site of the school, on a steep hill surrounded by 2 storey terraced housing. A key trait of this multi-storey building is its ability to have multiple levels of play space, almost double of the available space that was present in the previous Victorian school. Sandal Magna Community Primary School: Winner of 3 awards including the 2011 RIBA Northern Networks Awards building of the year award and short listed for a further 3 previously, the project is much like the St Silas school, though completed one month before the start of the St Silas scheme, the school is situated in the terraced urban environment of Wakefield. Though what Sarah Wigglesworth Architects strived to achieve was a bespoke school that fit into its surroundings seamlessly while maintaining its individuality. The school was one of the very last projects to benefit and receive funding provided during the time of the BSF programme, although the school is not a BSF school.

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Case Studies:

Timeline of Key Events of Government Policy and Case Studies:

2003

2004

Initial BSF Launch

2006

BSF spendature at ÂŁ27m but no schools built

Actual BSF Launch

Policies:

2005

Partnerships for schools PfS Launched

Primary Capital Programme PCP announced

2007

42 of 200 schools due to be completed (rebuild) only a further 13 schools (refurbish)

CABE inlisted to begin design review panels of all schemes

8

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

2008


St Silas: Final visualisations provided St Silas: Revit model used to show building strategies

Lime Tree: School Completed

St Silas: Initial meeting between school and architects

Sunesis: First school Ashcombe Primary Completed

Sandal Magna: School Completed

St Silas: School Completed

Sandal Magna: Construction starts

2009

Sunesis: Launched

2010

CABE publish set of minimum design standards

BSF Cancelled with 180 schools completed and 231 about to begin

2011

Lime Tree: Construction/ assembly starts

2012

2013

2014

James Review Published Launch of PSBP and announcement of 261 schools to be rebuilt or reconditioned EFA publish Standard Baseline Designs and Guidance

First PSBP school is completed (Whitmore Park Primary School, Coventry)

Announcement that ÂŁ1bn to be cut from PFI funding leaving 146 schools to be completely Capitally funded

Announcement of a Capital Review by Sebastian James

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Primary school Procurement: Government Policy over the Last Decade: Education Secretary Michael Gove announced in July 2010 that the less than successful Building Schools for the Future Program, launched in 2003, was to be cancelled due to the schemes short comings on budgeting and deliverance of schools on time. As of 31st December 2008, the BSF programme only managed to complete 42 of the proposed schools that were to be rebuilt and a further 13 refurbished, 94 schools were in the construction phase (National Audit Office, 2009), to a cost that was underestimated at approximately £1 billion per year, that figure grew massively due to the number of schools left to be built or refurbished. It would amount to a total capital cost of between £52b and £55b between 2005 and 2023 (National Audit Office, 2009). At the time of its cancellation 180 schools had been completed and building was about to start on 231 schools (Booth, 2012a). The scrapping of BSF had left approximately 1100 schools that had signed up, investing time, energy and money into drawing up plans for redevelopment, unable to go ahead due to the projects not reaching financial close. In the same month, Gove announced that a Capital Review was to be undertaken and chaired by Sebastian James, of whom published the review in April 2011. Subsequently a new scheme was developed by the Educational Funding Agency (EFA) and the Department for Eduction based on these findings. At the time of the review a total of £8.65 billion had been spent on the whole BSF programme, £3.5b of conventional funding and £5.15b of Private Finance Initiative (PFI), with the scheme becoming the governments single largest capital programme, in any area, in the financial year 2010-11 costing £3.7b. The programme maintained two core criteria for the prioritisation of funding to different areas nationwide: the first being the level of deprivation of the local area, of which deprivation was measured by the eligibility for free school meals. The greater the deprivation means the higher the priority; and secondly school pupils attainment, measured via 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics. The lower the attainment also means a higher prioritisation for that area. A major downfall of this method is that the dilapidation and general state of school buildings weren’t considered in the decision process for allocating the first funding to local authorities. The authorities did however sometimes 10

take condition into account when allocating the funding once it had been received, this resulted in poor correlation overall between the condition of schools and the order of which they were rebuilt/ refurbished. The overly complex processes of the BSF meant that the system took significant time, it could have took as long as four years before construction started on a project. The pre-procurement and procurement processes were exceedingly lengthy and were both a key driver of cost and the risk of the local authorities, central government and the private sector. It had been estimated that the costing of all these processes amounted up to 15% of the total spend of the whole work. The average pre-procurement cost to the Local Authority was approximately £1.7m (spanning 18-20 months) the reason being that the level of paperwork to complete the necessary strategy documents were excessive. Each school in the BSF programme whether it be a rebuild or refurbishment was individually designed. In order to design each school separately a number of parties had to come together on each occasion; the Local Authority; School Management team; Technical advisers; and the Contractors with their own design team, an estimated cost for all these groups was approximately £2.3m per school, covering a length of time (42 months on average) from the start of the education visioning process to the finalised design. Local Authority plans were slowed by the complex strategic discussions about the educational future for their area. Each individual design was intended not just to create a safe and pleasant environment for learning, but to transform the educational experience. There had been evidence produced to the review that showed cases of consultants being retained in order to produce lengthy reports on the views of parents, and also of heated debates between conflicting parties, resulting in dysfunctional behaviours, and potentially lengthening the design process, adjacent to this, the staff and pupils of early BSF schools had an unusually high level of input into the design process. The Review team stated: “While it is clearly right to work hard to get excitement and buy-in from all stakeholders including students, we were not convinced that

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


there should be significant input by pupils into the design for each school. The time frames involved meant that, in virtually every case, the majority of those children that had actually been involved had left school by the time the school was built.” (James, 2011) Moreover, there had been numerous accounts of head teachers working closely with consultants and designers on bespoke design solutions to suit their own educational approach, only to leave the school not long after completion. In one larger Local Authority it was reported that approximately 20% of head teachers had left their posts before the completion of the build process. Given the time scales, this wasn’t an unfamiliar issue although new head teachers had inherited a tailored facility that possibly wasn’t suited to their own approach to education. Guidance had been produced to show how involved staff should be in the process as a whole; suggesting that senior staff should take time out of their ‘day job’ to be part it “Full engagement with BSF at various stages is likely to require significant input from head teachers and other senior school staff. Experience to date has shown that these tasks cannot simply be added to the ‘day job’ and often require significant commitment from the relevant staff for a period of time. Governors should consider the scope for releasing relevant staff full-time, or on secondment to act on behalf of several schools. The Local Authority may provide some funding to support release or secondment.” (PfS, 2008) This level of input concluded in, sometimes, pupil attainment falling during and directly after the design process. Head teachers felt that the process was too disruptive and also used too much time. ‘Cutting edge, Bespoke design’ almost consistently came last in the list of priorities of the respondents in the review’s call for evidence, the top being ‘ensuring pupils are taught in an environment fit for purpose’. The design and procurement processes created the opportunities for consultants to find work at the public expense, however with this comes a price: The DFE and PfS spent £11.1m just on consultants to set up the BSF up to March 2008; The DFE also spent in excess of £1m in consultancy services for one individual to support early concept work and application work for a BSF bid. Due to a

lack of consistency in the design and approach there were concerns that there were no opportunities to engineer cost savings in to the process and also an inability to learn from successes and failures. In order to rectify this issue the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) introduced design review panels in 2007 with the aim to review each of the 63 designs of schools currently under way in the programme. All of these designs were deemed to be inadequate even after several stages of redesign though many were in the latter stages of the project process, subsequently those schools were built. After sufficient review and redesign it was declared that not all the designs were poor, but lessons could not be shared across the whole programme due to the lack of evaluative process. 2009 saw the introduction of CABE’s minimum design standards whereby schools were required to attain a ‘pass’ or ‘very good’ standard as judged against the ‘10 criteria for successful school design’. It was shown that the standards had little effect on schools as 33% of designs remained at a ‘poor’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ level even at the final design stage. Poor design however is often not always the fault of the designers, but a symptom of the design brief and requirements as has been set out by the clients. The design issues were forgiveable in the first schools overseen by CABE, approximately 1 year between initial design to final submission, but as more designs were produced it became more of an issue. All of the redesigns that needed to be undertaken inevitability led to increased costs in almost all sectors relating to the design. Due to the unclear parameters and a wide variation in design, the prices of BSF schemes and non-BSF academies had a very significant variations with often no clear relationship to quality; a school in one Authority could be built at £1000/m2 and in another £2000/m2 just in terms of build costs and not taking into account the differing prices of the land. BSF was an ambitious programme whose aim to replace the ageing school estate cannot be faulted, it should possibly be commended for that very reason, however the processes, lack of clarity with regards to its goals and accountability, and structural lack of ability to learn from experience meant that projects were long, expensive, complex and onerous to the educational professionals

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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involved. Though there were improvements, the average pre-procurement time fell by approximately 6 months over the first 6 BSF waves, and starts were made on post occupancy reviews, the scheme failed because of the impossible task for all involved, they were all capable and committed, to deliver a quality programme at the lowest possible cost. What did the James Review suggest for changes?: A principle issue with the BSF system is the lack of learning and systematic improvement of quality, cost and time from one school to another. This had directly been caused by the design and procurement processes resulting in designs being for one specific purpose for the one school, not for the whole BSF programme. The knock on effect had ramifications for the programme: High costs for both the design and the build; Variable quality between almost all projects; a need for every school to pass through an arduous cycle of checks and balances, all of which resulted in no opportunities for improvement as time passed. The Review team therefore recommended that a suite of drawings and specifications be developed as to be easily applied across a wide range of projects. These drawings will cover: the layouts and dimensions of spaces and walls; and feature details of how differing materials and components will be constructed and fixed together. The specifications however will be a written description of the standards and performance required of the materials and components that will make up the building. They say that it is of vital importance that this approach of standardisation not be thought only of a way to reduce costs of schools, using standard drawings and specifications will improve the overall quality through by bringing together all of the relevant expertise and experience required for continuous improvement. However using standardised designs across a multitude of projects will not make the buildings look the same, they can allow for facilities to become tailored to a reasonable degree to reflect the individual educational vision and site location of the school in question. The team recognised that projects are all individual but that an established ‘best practice’ for specific elements, eg: science labs; toilet blocks; etc, should be implemented in order to increase efficiency and quality of these areas in all schools. The system should continuously learn from 12

successes and failures, this being achieved through post occupancy reviews conducted at every school, and that those aspects that need to be addressed applied to all future projects in the programme. A standard approach will reduce costs, design fees, procurement costs and more importantly construction costs through the repetition and purchasing of standard products in bulk. The standard drawings and specifications will take account of the whole life costs of the educational facility via consideration of materials and energy usage, it will also allow for a more systematic use of BIM in the design and development of the build process. The design, procurement and construction processes shall become simplified, and the risks reduced as the entire supply chain gains experience in delivering to this precise brief. A standardisation will reduce time scales in four main aspects: Design, Consultation, Procurement and the Build. A project-specific design will be minimised in accordance to the standard drawings, which in turn means that the consultation will become reduced because stakeholders will have a baseline from which to work from, the procurement process will be shortened because the bidders will be more familiar with the designs due to the standardised nature from which they started, and there will also be a potential for modular elements and off site manufacturing of those elements. Known as the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) it allowed 261 schools, of 587 that applied (Vasgar, 2012), to receive funding through the Private Funding Initiative (PFI) costing between £2 – 2.5bn over 5 years, £14m per school, saving approximately 30% or £6-7m per school compared to the £55bn BSF scheme. Of the chosen schools, including 129 primary schools, 42 had been deemed to be ‘in the very worst condition’ or those that cater for children with special educational needs. The EFA (Education Funding Agency) produced a set of baseline designs for various levels of school design, ranging from a 105 place primary school with a 26 place nursery to an 1850 place secondary school. These baseline designs call for affordable, purely functional, stripped down school buildings therefore effectively banning curves, faceted curves, dog legs and notches (Rose, 2012) along with internal folding

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


partitions to subdivide classrooms, roof terraces being used as play areas, fully glazed curtain walling and translucent plastic roofs. The templates also state that buildings should be designed with square corners, and be clad in nothing more expensive than render or metal panels above head height, ceilings must be left bare and finally as much repetition as possible should be utilised as a way to keep costs down. An aspect of the baseline designs is also to reduce the amount of wasted space, approximately 5% less in primary schools, and on the whole, schools would become up to 15% smaller compared to the current standard. This would be achieved by squeezing the ancillary spaces such as corridors, atrium’s, school halls and canteens while maintaining the same size teaching spaces; classrooms (~54m square), staff rooms, sport, and art and design facilities. Even with these reductions, primary schools are expected to be larger than those built in 2006. From an architectural standpoint it would seem that the art of designing and developing spaces that suit specific teaching needs and advanced curricular is completely disregarded in favour of the cheaper, but design time efficient option of replicating the traditional long standing classroom design, which in crude terms can be described as a standard box that has windows, a door and some tables and chairs. Gove has repeatedly promoted the importance of curriculum, leadership and teaching in schools, and through a spokes person, he stated “There is no convincing evidence that spending enormous sums of money on school buildings leads to increased attainment. An excellent curriculum, great leadership and inspirational teaching are the keys to driving up standards. The standard school designs for the Priority Schools Building Programme will provide light, bright and airy learning environments for pupils and were drawn up jointly with architects and teaching experts to make the very best use of space.” (Fearson, 2011) Now this may be true that what he states are ‘the keys to driving up standards’ but ultimately what is the point in having all this great curriculum without having the best possible spaces to further enhance the teaching and learning of all of those who use it? Furthermore it has been proven via a study conducted ­by the University of Salford and Nightingale Associates, that well-designed classrooms can improve the academic performance of primary school pupils by 25 percent (Fearson, 2013). Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Baseline Designs:

The baseline design that has been chosen to evaluate is a two form entry solution for a junior mixed infant primary finger block school building, many aspects of this baseline have and will continue to be utilised in primary school design now and in the future. This baseline presents a fairly small footprint for the type of school it is designed for, aided by the two storey nature of the blocked building form. The presence of the step in the façade where the school hall is located seems to be an odd decision, undoubtedly it means that the sheltered area in the main entrance becomes more of an element of the building rather than a simple extension of the façade, something that would have been apparent if the hall was in a position in line with the main block. The government guidelines suggest minimising the use of indents in the building form, therefore a move like this may represent a strange one, though it may also represent a move by the EFA to loosen the guidelines to such an extent that the future buildings have a variety in their façades. The ground floor circulation routes form a cruciform arrangement with two staircases situated at either end of the lateral spine, keeping a uniformity to the circulation pattern in the building. All the necessary amenities are accessed via these corridors. The ground floor corridor is completely dependant on interior lighting which is a major issue with this form of building but the first floor manages to utilise a series of roof lights to help counteract the need for complete interior lighting. The use of ventilation shafts along the spine of the building with the aim to help the flow of fresh air through almost every classroom/learning space with the exception the rooms that have the advantage of having windows on more than one wall.

providing the opportunity for the curriculum to extend beyond the confines of the classroom. The staff provisions are split between the two floors, with the administrative areas on the ground floor, grouped in a block in order to moderate where the classrooms are grouped, and the only staff area located on the first floor being the staffroom. What this design incorporates well is the use of shared areas that utilise the extra space available in the corridors the best way possible and it brings a liveliness to a space that may only be used at a few points in the day.

Figure 1: 2FEN Baseline 3D Cross Section

Keeping in mind that this is simply a ‘baseline design’ and more than likely will not become a school building in its exact form as it exists now. The orthogonal plan of the classrooms lend themselves kindly to a more conventional method of teaching and, all classrooms on the ground floor though, have access to the outdoor environment therefore 14

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

Figure 2: 2FEN Baseline


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Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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The Architectural Profession’s Response to the Emerging Policy: Is a standardised method really the right way to design our primary schools? It would depend highly on what methods were defined and applied within the design process whether that be what the EFA supply as the best method, being their proposed Baseline designs, or it be the option to choose an off the shelf design from construction practices such as Willmott Dixon or to design a school using a standard kit of parts like Galliford Try have introduced.

18% (approximately 3500 pupils) between 2012 and 2020, with an increase of 8% by, this current year, 2015 (Hill, 2012). It simply would be illogical for the government to have traded a cost effective solution for actual practicality, though the population increase is not uniform throughout the nation, majority of the increase is expected in the major cities, the need for larger schools, with larger amounts of functional space must be required.

The RIBA has also weighed in on the argument by suggesting that “schools built using the government’s guidelines would place a “straitjacket” on teachers and quickly become redundant as a result of developments in technology and education” (Wilding, 2012). In a sense what the RIBA say is completely correct, though the government stress that they “want new school designs to prioritise high specification over area, and that bids would be judged on this basis during procurement” (Klettner, 2012) it would seem as though the architectural practice of designing specific areas for differing needs within schools has effectively been ‘written out’ of the PSBP guidelines. Admittedly architects can over-design and over-compensate for predicted growth when designing certain spaces therefore increasing cost, but this is only achieved through agreement with the client and other involved parties.

In 2014 many hundreds of schools across the country were having to extend their school building to be able to accommodate for the rising population of pupils, however, in order to achieve this they were having to compromise on the existing playground and playing field space which seems as though it ‘could’ turn out to be a necessary action considering more children will be able to attend school without having to squeeze potentially double the amount of students into the same space, it isn’t feasible and would be unacceptable to both the children and teachers alike because it would most definitely hinder every child’s education. David Burchett, of the charity Learning through Landscapes, which promotes playtime for pupils, stressed that access to outside space was “incredibly important and should be preserved”, he continued to say that “If a child can’t run in a straight line because 400 other children are in their way, where are they releasing that energy? Children need space. We appreciate that some schools are on restricted sites, but they should do whatever they can” (Ward, 2014)

RIBA President at the time Angela Brady concurred with the idea of cost cutting “In these times of austerity of course we need to cut our cloth on all spending, however the government’s proposals for the design and construction of future schools are far too restrictive with too much focus on short term savings” (Wilding, 2012). Again there’s a distinct impression given by the RIBA that the PSBP does not have the future of the school building in mind, it comes across that the schools will pop up in place of an older, maybe unusable school building, last for 20 years and then itself be replaced by another school. It cant be imagined that this is what the government are aiming to achieve with the programme but it certainly seems that way with some of the design based decisions that have been made, such as the size of corridors and communal spaces being reduced even with the prediction that the population of primary and nursery school children will increase by 16

Sarah Wigglesworth herself wrote an article about what she referred to as ‘Factory Schools’ and argued that there can be no logic to producing and using “catalogue designs to build cheap, undersized state schools occupied on a rational basis.” She further expanded on this to say “People will care less about quality and more about profit margins and “shareholder value”. But the factory schools of the future will have little regard for the appropriateness of the design to the school’s educational aspirations – why should they? We are told that this is the teachers’ responsibility. But the question remains: why would a teacher want to teach in such an environment? What message does it send to our kids? Both would soon know their place: they don’t matter. How can

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


this possibly aid learning?� (Wigglesworth, 2011) It has always been part of the Architects and designers obligation to create a good design in buildings and aim for them to be simple to inhabit, economical to run and maintain so that the occupants are able to make best use of the spaces, in schools especially this is a necessity so that the teachers can provide innovation in lessons by using differing techniques and specialised spaces to further the learning abilities of the children they teach.

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Standardised Packages As An Alternative: Willmott Dixon have produced a series of pre-designed school buildings that have given schools the opportunity to massively streamline the procurement process and other such elements in order to feasibly start work on site in as little as 31 weeks from the initial enquiry (Sunesis, 2015). It can be determined that this method of producing completely standardised ‘factory schools’ is that the whole project is kept to a pre-determined time scale, for example every design has a fixed cost that applies to each different package and is also determined what fixtures and finishes the client wishes to adapt to suit their needs. The primary school packages are available in 4 differing designs; Keynes, Dewey, Paxton and Newton. As a collective the 4 packages cover all bases in terms of; building form to suit a variety of sites, single and multi storey solutions for the higher form entry schools, of which that range from one form entry up to three form entry with nursery, with the exception of 1.5 form entry with nursery which is unavailable. As a selling point for the Sunesis programme, Willmott Dixon state in the brochure “There’s no need to attend lots of meetings with people not talking your language.” This possibly does appeal to a lot of schools because it is a very simple and easy method in order to gain a high quality school building. At the time of writing, there are eleven Sunesis school projects that have been completed across the country, two ongoing projects currently in the construction phase and a further project currently in development (Sunesis, 2015). These figures prove that a method of ‘off the shelf’ design can work however the way in which the process is described could be interpreted as quite a ‘kick in the teeth’ for the architects who can actually engage with the client and explain to them the design in such a succinct language that all involved can understand. A case to back this view is the way in which the architect of St Silas CE Primary School engaged with the clients to design the new school. Mrs Hillary Hinchliff, head teacher at St Silas said this about the process “When we had the initial meeting with the architect we (the school representatives) told the architect what it was that is important to us in education, as we were talking he was sketching and scribbling ideas down on a few pieces of tissue paper that I had laying around. They were the very first attempts at a design based simply 18

Figure 3: Keynes2 2FEN Design

Figure 5: Paxton2 2FE Design

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


on what we found to be of importance in the new school, the amazing part of the whole process is that when you look at the school, as built, those initial sketches and concepts are strongly visible in the architecture... It is just great that the architect was able to translate the ideas and convey them back to us so clearly and effectively.” (Hinchliff, 2015) It just goes to show that successful design can be achieved via the conventional method too.

Figure 4: Dewey 2FE Design

One issue that needs to be raised with these pre-designed schools is that the ideology and the philosophy of the school could potentially be lost due to the lack of input in the design stages, this has been backed by Mr Simon Beswick, Executive Principle at Lime Tree Primary Academy. He stated that “due to the process that we went through and we’re involved from the start with the local authority, planners and the architect and by working closely together we designed a school that completely fulfilled our needs. Working from the beginning was absolutely essential for the school to become what we wanted.” (Beswick, 2015) he continued to say about the why they chose the Architect “the concept was just a beautiful representation of what we wanted, they had also clearly conducted research into what the school was, where we are now and what our philosophy is so they were the perfect choice in the end.” (Beswick, 2015) This method of producing a school suited Lime Tree perfectly as their curriculum is not standard whereas it could be assumed that a school that chooses to construct a Sunesis package could potentially have teach using a more conventional method, one mainly based around classroom learning.

Figure 6: Newton 1FE Design

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Case Studies: Basic Information.

Project

Ashcombe Primary School

Lime Tree Primary Academy

St Silas CE Primary School

Architect

Atkins

Atkins

Capita Symonds

Contractor

Willmott Dixon

Laing O’Rourke

Balfour Beatty

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OJEU publicly funded

PSPC6

Total Cost £m M2/ pupil Size of School

less than 5 3.1 2FEN

3.8 3.9 2FEN

LEP Funded Blackburn and Darwin Council 7.5 5.7 2FEN

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

Sandal Magna Community Primary School Sarah Wigglesworth Architects Allen Build North East JCT SBC 05 5.25 7.6 1FE

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Sunesis Keynes2 / Ashcombe Primary School, Somerset: Overall building form: When North Somerset Council needed a new 420 place, two from entry primary school for less than £5m, they chose the Keynes2 pre-designed package provided by Sunesis and Willmott Dixon. The steel portal frame structure based around a ‘T’ shaped learning street concept was the ideal solution for the new school, and also can incorporate future internal remodelling if needed to without having to interrupt the exterior building fabric. Choosing this method of building design allowed the school to personalise the building to suit the teachers needs: the internal street provides the shared learning spaces; and an importance was placed on the ability for the class to engage with the outdoors for learning purposes, the design allowed for this by providing links from the classrooms to the external environment. Willmott Dixon suggest that each outdoor learning space should ideally be contained in an area exclusive to either a single classroom or pair of classrooms depending on whether the exit is shared, they also say that these areas would be covered spaces though it does not form part of the base offer. Because of the standardised construction of the building there is clear vision for expandability into a three form entry school by replicating a mirror image of the block as shown in the bottom of the plan. At present the solution is not available from Sunesis but there could eventually be a call for it in future years. 20 20 1 19 19 14

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1 - Nursery 2 - Reception classroom 3 - Year 1 Classroom 4 - Year 2 Classroom 5 - Year 3 Classroom 6 - Year 4 Classroom 7 - Year 5 Classroom 8 - Year 6 Classroom 9 - Studio 10 - Library/LRC/ICT 11 - Kitchen 12 - School Hall 13 - Plant Room 14 - Group Space 15 - Staff Room 16 - Office 17 - Main Entrance 18 - Staff Provisions 19 - WC 20 - Cloakroom

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Ground floor Plan from Willmott Dixon

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Interior environments: The use of colour, natural light and internal windows gives a feeling of connectedness throughout the school while being reinforced via bi-folding doors at the end of the main hall which look out on to the playground and face the old Ashcombe primary school building. Head Teacher, Peter Turner remarked in a letter about his views of the new building, “The first thing to say about the school is that it is like no other. its open design means that everyone feels part of the whole. Not one square meter of space is wasted, it all supports childrens learning. The sheer size of the non classroom spaces, especially with the cathedral like height, produce a calm atmosphere that everyone values. The natural light is extensive due to to the large amount of glass but this is enhanced by high quality lighting too. Despite its vast size the building is permanently warm but never too hot or stuffy. It provides the perfect working atmosphere for young children and the adults working with them. Even wet lunchtimes (previously a nightmare) are enjoyable. I can walk down both streets within a minute or so and in that time monitor all 420 children and my 34 class based staff.� (Willmott Dixon, 2013) The main entrance to the school provides a clearly identifiable point of entry with good visibility for staff control of visitors through the reception/office area, the window from the general office also allows for early sight of those approaching. Safeguarding is supported by restricting visitor access to a defined space within the lobby with all doors off the space being access controlled. Circulation Spaces: Without doubt the main space in this school is the central street which in itself is approximately the size of 6 or 7 classrooms, the equivalent of a one form entry schools classroom allocation. Within the space it provides more than just circulatory movement, it hosts a vast number of shared learning areas including (in the base package) a number of ICT suites; a shared science, design and technology, and food technology area; with learning resource areas in each of the two wings.

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Figure Figure?:7:Ashcombe Keynes2 shared Central learning Street

Figure 8: Ashcombe Central Street

Figure 9: Keynes2 ICT street

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Provisions of Staff Facilities: Staff have a good but limited area for their own provisions, the standard staffroom for example can hold up to 17 members of staff at one time, though you may be hard pressed to see how regular kitchenette provisions and adequate seating could also be provided in the space provided. General meetings would also most likely take place in the central street as it is an area that provides the necessary space requirements for such an event given the lack of a meeting room and without using a classroom space. Typologies: The teaching spaces are fairly generic and very much in line with the government guidelines, as you would expect, in their shape and proportions though they remain a sufficient size for a variety of activities to take place. The younger pupils have larger rooms to support the wider range of practical activities that take place, especially Nursery and reception classes. An issue that has presented itself in the prescribed layout however is the location of each of the classes in relation to the year groups and that not one class in a year group share a cloakroom with its counterpart, for the junior classes it is a simple case of reassigning the rooms but the infant wing has a slightly more difficult task in that not all of the classrooms have the same floor area. A solution would be: swap room 1 with room 2 and linking the reception classes while still giving the Nursery the same space; increase the area of room 8 by 5m2 as it won’t interrupt the flow of the street; swap room 7 with the newly configured room 8, linking the year 2 classes; finally swap the new room 7 with room 4 providing the link between the year 1 classes. This arrangement not only gives a greater continuity between the year groups but also allows for larger activities to take place in the studio space. The junior classrooms are slightly smaller in area but also cater for a selection of layouts and provides access directly into the learning street in that wing of the building. The large windows flood each of the classrooms with natural light which not only helps the pupils to remain alert during lessons but, in some cases, also helps to show off the vivid colours of the feature walls, of which each classroom has its own distinct colour giving each class its own individual identity. All classrooms also provide good amounts

Figure 10: Keynes2 Junior Classroom of display surfaces that coincide with the spaces in the central streets. Though the central street is completely open as a shared space, potentially creating a busy and noisy atmosphere to learn and teach in, movable partitions can be introduced into the space in order to arrange more closed work environments. Mr Turner also spoke of the shared spaces in his letter “The classrooms are proving to be ideal centres for learning with the flexibility for groups or individuals to take their learning outside or into the street as needed. Children are working alongside other age groups and learning vital collaborative skills and developing greater independence away from the teachers. Teachers leave their doors open throughout the day enhancing the free-flow of learning, the four glass cubicles provide great spaces for staff to prepare lessons (providing a great role model to the children watching) and for individual or paired tuition.” (Willmott Dixon, 2013) There is a fundamental flaw with the main hall, though it can fit the majority of pupils into it for assembly, it cannot accommodate for the reception classes at the same time, considering assembly is one of the very few times the school partakes in an activity as an entire cohort, even if it is in line with the BB99 (Building Bulletin 99: Building Framework for primary school projects) it is surely unacceptable for a school to allow the exclusion of a set of pupils from the main space.

Figure 11: Keynes2 Infant Classroom

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Lime Tree Primary Academy, Trafford: Overall Building Form: Built as a replacement for the former classroom block, of the existing 1950’s Lime Tree Primary School, Atkins and Laing O’Rourke produced a single storey, two form entry, modular construct that is the very first to have been used in this way for a primary school. The system represents a variation of the standardised school model has become a highly customised and bespoke design which lends itself perfectly with the Forest school curriculum of Lime Tree. Simon Beswick, Executive Head at Lime Tree, sees the success of the school as the bespoke nature of the construction “It is all about the way in which the prefabricated elements have been assembled and the use of different spaces means that a very simple set of structures have been combined to meet the needs that we required, so in that sense it is completely bespoke because it is suited and designed around our curriculum and our needs as a school.” (Beswick interview, line 29) Simon Reid, Atkins project architect for the school, agrees that the modular process aided the entire project. He stated that it helped “generate the initial concept diagram right from the start of the project” but that it set parameters that “protected the concept and ensured that it has been maintained from the start of the process to the end.” (Ijeh, 2013).

not an issue with the school due to the curriculum that they use, situated in the northern most point of the site sits a the ‘Farm and Forest school area’ whereby the children engage with the outdoors in such a way that most other schools would struggle to achieve in more urban areas. With respect to the surrounding context the school sits rather quietly, possibly due to the old school building and entrance remaining unchanged on the face of it and the single storey nature of the building means that in some cases the roof line will sit below the surrounding houses and trees.

The form of the new building is fairly simple in both conception and reality comprising of 4 main pavilion blocks, housing the classrooms and individual toilet blocks, connected via a semi-indoor ‘Avenue’ covered by the canopy that links all 4 pavilions and the remaining school building together. Three of the pavilions are architecturally identical in every way whereas the fourth houses a second staff room and the foundation year groups, Nursery and Reception, so extra space was necessitated due for the extra nursery facilities. “The footprint of the building doesn’t take very much from the land so that means that we could implement our ideas for the outside a lot more successfully. We have a forest school area and a farm which can then engage with the building via the Avenues or the courtyards, within the pavilions, that then bring the outside in. This is also achieved due to the expanses of glass that each pavilion and classroom has.” (Beswick interview, line 54) As the site was formerly a farm, the surrounding space is expansive, making good use of that space is 26

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Figure 12: Lime Tree Primary Academy

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1 - Nursery 2 - Reception classroom 3 - Infants Classroom 4 - Junior Classroom 5 - Courtyard 6 - Breakout space 7 - Avenue 8 - Staff Room 9 - Group Space 10 - Library/media suite 11 - Food Tech 12 - Heads office 13 - Dining Hall 14 - Staff Provisions 15 - WC/Cloakroom 16 - Old Existing School

Ground floor Plan from Laing O’Rourke Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Interior Environments: Natural light floods into each of the classrooms in the new building and this is largely down to the positioning of the spaces on the outer walls of each pavilion, even the classrooms on the inner most edge of the pavilions under the canopy have an expanse of light entering the room because of the clever use of openings in the structure. Even late on into the school day most of the rooms did not need to have the interior lighting on to adequately teach in the spaces. The thermal quality of the spaces, especially the new building, were truly excellent, given that the ‘Avenue’ is open to the weather conditions outside the building it creates a different feel to what you would generally expect in a school, this means that in the colder months, like when the school was visited in early February, this space is particularly cold however when you step over the threshold into the pavilions the condition switches to a warm and controlled environment to keep the occupants comfortable. “Light and space are the things that come to mind when we saw the classrooms for the first time, high ceilings, usable spaces, vistas that you could look through to connect to wherever you stood and then when it is being occupied by the children it all comes alive. You can see how the decisions that were made in the initial stages are now impacting on childrens’ learning environment and their individual learning.” (Beswick interview, line 37) Even the colder weather conditions of the ‘Avenue’ in the winter months doesn’t detract from the unique environment it upholds in the school, music is constantly played into the space, relieving the sometimes monotonous nature of circulation spaces in traditional schools and creating an enjoyable and comfortable space for everyone to enjoy. This is further enhanced by the choice of materials that have been used in the space. In order to boost the outside feel of the space, Cedar cladding lines each of the walls in the ‘Avenue’ giving the space more warmth and helps the occupants to feel more exposed to the nature of the outside world.

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Figure 13: Openings in the canopy

Figure 14: Year 6 classroom layout

Figure 15: the Cedar Clad Avenue

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Circulation Spaces: Two main circulatory systems have been implemented in Lime Tree school: the first being that of which you would expect from a traditional, 1950’s post world war 2, school in that there is a central spine that runs through the whole of the school from the now main dining area through to what once was the classroom block and the various rooms and spaces would stem from this corridor, and the majority of these spaces still exist in the school as a whole entity, albeit shortened with the removal of the classroom block; and at the other end of the school, the new building is accessed through a shared media and library space, linked to the dining hall via an interior colonnade, into the ‘Avenue’ which as mentioned earlier creates links to each of the pavilions and the outside areas at either end of its cruciform design. Follow the ‘Avenue’ to its end and it culminates in an outdoor performance/auditorium from which the school can gather and perform assembly sessions outside rather than become stuck in the school hall as most other schools choose to do. Provisions of Staff Facilities: “We have great staffroom spaces, because our school is essentially an extension or moreover a replacement for the old schools teaching spaces, we kept the main administrative spaces that were provided in the old school. This actually means that we have a surplus of administrative and training spaces in the school as a whole which has been a major benefit to us as a staff cohort whereby we have a number of different spaces where we can relax and get away from the teaching for just a few moments, also because we have the extra spaces we actually hold conferences and teacher training days here at Lime Tree which can hold around 80 people on an average day.” (Beswick interview, line 69) There has been a surplus of administrative and staff facilities at the school since the construction of the new building but this plays completely into the schools hands, with the ability to hold the training conferences and also being a designated National Support School, meaning it provides a leadership role supporting other schools and receives visiting educational delegations from as far afield as China (Ijeh, 2013) Needless to say that the two form entry school is not left wanting for usable space though even if the school decided to increase the amount of pupils it caters for up to

a three form entry, not an impossibility due to the buildings construction allowing for expandability potentially to a second storey, the staff facilities at present would undoubtedly still be able to cope with the extra additions.

Figure 16: This Corridor once led to each classroom

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Typologies: As you may expect the pavilions, especially the 3 identical ones, have a set typology for the classrooms and spaces within and in themselves they’re near enough symmetrical. It can be seen in plan that each of the classrooms are in fact identical in area and shape (ignoring factors such as door and window locations) meaning there is a tremendous amount of continuity running through the new building. By creating a sense of familiarity in the architecture it undoubtedly would reduce the risk of pupils feeling uncomfortable if they’re needed to change classrooms. In the initial discussions with the architect, the school made it abundantly clear their ambitions for the classroom spaces, “we need to avoid seeing the classroom as the only place in which children could learn, in turn providing a variety of spaces such as; lots of break out spaces, unusual spaces, internal to external spaces” (Beswick interview, line 8) this has been aided in respect to internal/external spaces by the positioning of the classrooms and the inner courtyard in each pavilion. Each classroom has its own exit straight into the external landscape and the courtyard, accessed via the shared ‘breakout area’, can be completely opened up thanks to a large set of gates on the outer wall of the building, hereby contributing to the schools success of bringing the outside in. In order to subdivide the classrooms into specific areas the school has utilised the furniture such as small shelving units that can be arranged and moved around with ease depending on the activities that take place in the school. This method is implemented far less in the junior classrooms and not at all when the children reach year 6 presumably because the educational needs don’t require them. Shared spaces were also a major asset that the school wished to address when deciding on the design for this new school building, when asked Mr Beswick stated what he believed was the most important space in the school “The crossing in the Avenue where you can see in all directions is the most important for me, it is a space that all children will use at some point and also at the beginning and ends of the day it is a place where, when the gates are open, families can travel through this space also meaning that it is a powerful space and an indicator, whereby you can stand in the centre of the crossing and see what our school is about.” (Beswick interview, line 62) It is important to understand that the new building 30

Figure 17: A Courtyard in one of the Pavilions

Figure 18: One of the large openings in the canopy Figure 19: A typical Reception classroom layout

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


doesn’t have any corridors as such just this expansive ‘Avenue’ which acts as a shared and circulative space for everyone in the school, the additional allocated space for the circulation in turn was implemented into the pavilion ‘breakout areas’ at times serving as an additional learning environment. “The only aspect that I would say really needs work as a whole school building is the school hall which is fairly old fashioned, when you walk in it doesn’t seem as a part of the school as it is now and it is an area of considerable size and that area needs to be looked at carefully, for example we have a dining room which, by a means of bespoke furniture, is an area that is not simply used for lunchtime but is used as a flexible space throughout the day and we would look at the hall as being a multi-functional space along those same guidelines.” (Beswick interview, line 79) This was the response when asked what changes he would like to make if given the opportunity and it is understandable as to why this would be the first area to change. The main reason being that it is one of the main congregational areas within every school and it hasn’t changed with the new areas of the school, as it has been stated it feels ‘old fashioned’ like it would have looked in the latter days of the old school, in that context it would fit but in comparison with the dining room, there’s no question that this area needs an uplift.

Figure 20: A Vibrant Breakout Space between classrooms

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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St Silas CE Primary School, Blackburn: Overall building form: Due to the restricted nature of the site, a size of approximately 60m by 40m, it wasn’t possible for a completely standardised and pre-designed solution for the replacement school therefore a bespoke design was necessary. Other schools that had been built in the area were able to be given the choice for a standardised school because the space was available on the site to arrange the buildings to suit the needs of those schools and curricular. Mrs Hillary Hinchliff stated “This school had to be thought about exceedingly carefully and because of that it is absolutely bespoke, not just as a building but as an educational establishment, and we had an involvement right from day one in the design of this building and it has really been built with education in mind.” (Hinchliff interview, line 13) The two form entry need for the school also provided a spatial challenge “the design managed to get us 3 levels of play; a courtyard on the ground floor, the roof terrace on the first floor which wraps around the courtyard on 3 sides above the classrooms and an astro-turf pitch on the roof of the second floor, meaning a lot more play space than we previously had.” (Hinchliff

interview, line 73) more specifically 800sqm of play area off ground level, 400sqm greater than what the previous school provided (Boyce, 2015). The school interacts with the surrounding context in a very tasteful manner that is sympathetic to the terraces that border it “In order to maximise volume on site and to overcome height and planning issues adjacent to a conservation area, the team utilised the steeply sloping site topography, resulting in a three storey solution which is layered over and pushed into the site with a ground floor over 4 meters below ground level at the rear of the site. ‘Though you would never realise until a parent walks past the high level windows overlooking the dining hall and waves down to their son......’ The overall form comprises four linked blocks wrapping around a secure play courtyard: a single storey block with a rooftop play deck along Clematis Street creates a landscape of soft rubber ‘meerkat’ mounds and a juxtaposition with the Pennines in the distance when viewing to the South, this is then linked to the ground with a tube slide at which the children form an orderly queue every break.” (Boyce, 2015)

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1 - Foundation Classroom 2 - Year 1 Classroom 3 - Year 2 Classroom 4 - Year 3 Classroom 5 - Role Play area

6 - WC 7 - Plant Room 8 - Kitchen 9 - Dining Hall 10 - Hall 11 - Performance

16 - Science/D&T/Food 17 - Main Entrance 18 - Library 19 - Staff Offices 20 - Heads Office 21 - Admin Office Stairs 22 - Staff Room 12 - Nursery Play 23 - Staff Terrace Area 24 - Year 5 Classroom 13 - Lower PLay area 25 - Astro Pitch 14 - Upper Play Deck 26 - Year 6 Classroom 15 - Year 4 Classroom

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Interior environments: Thanks to the positioning of the classrooms around the perimeter of the school building the potential for maximum natural lighting and ventilation strategies were realised in the majority of the classrooms. Upon seeing the classrooms first hand it was clear that the amount of daylight was tremendous, even in the classrooms on the lower ground floor alongside the ‘role play area’ have such a large amount of natural daylight that enters the classroom from both sides, this is undeniably helped due to the plain white finish of the walls reflecting and dispersing the light throughout the space. These classrooms in particular attempt to maximise the ventilation through it via a folding glass wall that creates the divide between the two areas, once parted and the doors to the exterior opened the ventilation in through the space creates a fresh environment. Some newer schools have a range of automatic systems such as solar shading devices and windows that open when a temperature reaches a peak, St Silas made it a priority that this technology not be present in their new school “We stressed to the architects to keep it all simple, so for instance we can open the windows, they’re not on a motor, its aspects like that we insisted we would do ourselves, so yes they are well ventilated and thermally comfortable. As always with new buildings there are hot and cold spots but they are much better than they were and it is very well lit.” (Hinchliff interview, Line 55) Circulation Spaces: St Silas specified that as many classrooms as possible would open up to the outside which subsequently meant that the corridor space that would have been specified for a standard school became unnecessary as a corridor. “...all of it that was allotted has ended up in that double height area (role play) which in itself is not actually a corridor, its a flexible learning space...” (Hinchliff interview, Line 64) she also stated that “with the corridor space being used in this way there is next to no issue with the movement around school in that way.” (Hinchliff interview, Line 68) There are two staircases within the building, negating the ‘performance stairs’, are used as the internal vertical circulation though the exterior staircase linking the outdoor levels is quite often used also which provides a change in the norm of circulatory movement. 34

Figure 21: Year 6 Classroom on the First floor

Figure 22: maximum natural light using two orientations

Figure 23: learning in the role play area

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Provisions of Staff Facilities: “The staffroom is such a lovely area for the staff and it has made a really great difference because staff well being is important too.� (Hinchliff interview, Line 120) The majority of the staff provisions are situated on the ground floor with the staffroom linked across the main entrance via a bridge to the remaining classrooms and the astro-turf play area on the first floor. This positioning of the staffroom allows for a terraced area only accessible to the staff, creating this area makes for a separation from the children which as Mrs Hinchliff stated is important for staff well being. The reason that the staff offices are located on the first floor is because it allows for greater and easier access to all areas in the school from the school hall below and the upper-year classrooms above to the main administrative offices by the main entrance to the school. During the tour of the school the deputy head stated that what is now a three person office was initially provided as a printing room which would have only housed two printers in total, it goes to show that sometimes the needs of the staff change from the initial conception and design of the building though not having designated this particular space for offices has meant that there is no natural light or ventilation in that room. Typologies: There are only two main typologies that exist in the classrooms at St Silas, the more traditional and standard style square classroom and the longer shaped rooms that the younger years occupy where there is a connecting space between two of the standard shaped rooms that exist to also keep a more traditional method of teaching separate classes. The typologies of the older year classrooms, years 5 and 6 on the first floor, keep the method of traditional teaching in mind but utilises the perimeter of the room in such a way that storage provisions are located in alignment with the building services which permits the design to maximise natural light and ventilation. This method also adapts itself to the classrooms on the ground and lower ground floors, whereby the floor to ceiling windows are located on adjacent walls, on the lower ground in particular both of those walls have thresholds to the surrounding spaces, this typology means that the storage and teaching walls have to also be placed opposite one

Figure 24: View to the terrace from the Staffroom

Figure 25: The Mulitple play measures for outdoor circulation

Figure 26: A reading tent area set up in a classroom

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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another. This has its advantages because it promotes a more linear space in which to arrange the teaching area while the adjacent openings can create cross ventilation through the whole room whereas with the top floor to create the same ventilation it would mean that the classroom door would need to be kept open. Though the typologies have very little to differentiate them, spatially each classroom has its own different typology. This occurs in accordance with what the curriculum designates and is achieved via the positioning of furniture, mainly storage/shelving units, allowing for a specialised space to be created for a number of activities. This can be observed in whereby along with the use of fabric, creates a small reading space that is partially segregated from the main area. As you may expect the shared spaces each have their own typologies while all providing spaces that can be used for multiple activities, the aforementioned ‘role play area’ being the primary shared space used for learning in the school. “All these spaces have multiple uses... this means that the learning doesn’t have to be confined to just the classrooms, but again even though it is a small site, they can take the children out across school and find areas to go to work, so its having those flexible spaces that have been key.” (Hinchliff interview, Line 87). The library implicates the same method of space creating as in the classrooms though when the blinds are closed the space feels small, when they’re opened as intended they give the room an elevated and expanded feel when looking down into the hall and the dining area.

Figure 27: The view into the Dining hall from the Library

Figure 28: The typology of the Library is similar to the classrooms with the use of furniture.

Figure 29: A view from the opposite side of the Library into the Hall 36

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Sandal Magna Community Primary School, Wakefield: Overall building form: “We’ve tried to create building of learning. There’s no [excessive] noise, no trouble. The architecture comes second. It’s really about the bits in between the buildings, and the kids” Mark Hadden, project architect. (Merrick, 2010) As a completely bespoke design, Sandal Magna school represents not only one of the last projects to receive funding through the BSF period, but what can be achieved when architects and clients are perfectly in tune with what makes a great school. This school replaced the redbrick Victorian school previously built in 1890 and sits on a site surrounded by two storey terraced houses with a particular vernacular that the school building fully endorses in its form and massing. The dominant brickwork, terraced like grid and dynamic, angular roof scape aid in the school building becoming emulsified into the surrounding context. The project architect of the school, Mark Hadden, had this to say on the design of the school “We wanted it to look like a street and we wanted an architectural language that was clearly related to local context. There are also lots of smaller sheds attached to the houses in the local area. We were keen to reflect that kind of modular, industrial arrangement in the school.” (Ijeh, 2010) The school achieves what most others cannot, it finds the conceptual middle ground between completely ignoring its context and simply copying it. However due to the variety of materials and styles that are present in the school, it can sometimes lack visual unity “The lack of visual unity is keenly felt at the main entrance, which is approached by walking through two walls lined with corrugated grey cementitious boards on either side. This is in response to the administrative areas located behind them, but the effect is far less inviting than the textured warmth of timber and seems a dogmatic and utilitarian step in a building that goes to such lengths to be empathic.” (Ijeh, 2010) The building becomes the place maker for most of the outdoor spaces, with the street-like nature of the blocks creating interesting areas for both play and learning while introducing a varying materiality to distinguish between the architectural elements of the building form.

Figure 30: Sandal Magna School from the playground

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Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


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1 - Main Entrance 2 - Foyer 3 - Reception 4 - Heads Office 5 - Meeting Room 6 - Staff Room 7 - Community Room 8 - WC 9 - Utility Room 10 - Circulation (staff) 11 - Plant Room 12 - Kitchen 13 - Office 14 - Store 15 - Dining Hall 16 - Hall 17 - PE Store 18 - Teaching Space 19 - Play Area 20 - Covered Play Area 21 - Cloakroom 22 - Parents’ Room 23 - Resource 24 - Special Education Needs 25 - Small Group Room 26 - Classroom 27 - Group Room 28 - Book Stop 29 - ICT

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Interior environments: By inviting the children to see, touch, hear and feel how architecture works, the building fabric has the potential to become a rich mind scape that forms as effective a learning tool as a textbook in an exam. Internally the school continues many of the visual and environmental themes evident on the Faรงade. Natural materials are everywhere, especially exposed brickwork and cross-laminated timber. Many internal spaces are lit solely by roof lights, including the main hall and the central corridor that forms the spine of the classroom block, letting in copious amounts of daylight. The school is almost entirely naturally ventilated, a row of wind towers can be found on one cross-wall of each of the primary wing classrooms, to draw air into the classrooms, maximising natural ventilation, the only exception in the building being some minor mechanical vents installed in the ICT suite. The classrooms are fitted with exposed horizontal metal service grids above the children; deliberately serpentine copper water pipes veer in a multitude of directions across the frames to feed the fire sprinklers; and big sound- absorbing mats hang like dominoes in the void between the service grids and cross-laminated timber ceilings. In the assembly hall the inner leaves of the end walls are mainly composed of perforated brickwork to absorb sound, similar treatments to those found in the classroom wing. Circulation Spaces: The circulative spaces for Sandal Magna represent a more conventional approach to moving between spaces with two lateral corridors giving access to the teaching spaces, classrooms and shared spaces such as an indoor play area and the school hall, these transits both intersect with a longitudinal spine that links all three blocks to one another. Unlike some primary schools, specifically the older schools where corridors can become quite narrow and crowded, the case with this school is that even though the space is narrow in parts light streams into the space creating the illusion of extra space. As you may expect the corridor opens as you reach the foyer in the heart of the school presumably to reduce the congestion that will inevitably build up during the day with staff and pupils alike passing through the space at busy times, such as lunchtime.

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Figure 31: Another play area shaped by the building form

Figure 32: One of the Group spaces connected to the classroom

Figure 33: An extended view of the sizable play areas between the buildings

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Provisions of Staff Facilities: Staff provisions are grouped in one single block of the building along with the community room which offers the staff a rest and change of scenery away from the teaching blocks which would undoubtedly aid with staff moral. An observation to be made however is the circulation between the spaces in this particular block: the plant room is unable to be accessed from inside the building; the head teachers office and training room are directly accessible from a secondary circulatory space but the staff room and staff toilets are only accessible through the utility room. It would seem to be an odd architectural move to make to have to get to a potentially frequently used space such as the staffroom through a secondary space in the building. Typologies: “Our children learn by doing. Many of them have very little experience to draw on – growing plants, for example, or experiencing the world around them, even getting dirty. Many just don’t do physical things like jumping and climbing, but after all these years seeing it in place, its marvellous to see it working” (Merrick, 2010) says Julia Simpson, head teacher at Sandal Magna, referring to the educational standpoint applied to the school. External allotments have been provided beside the classrooms for use by the pupils. Most of the classrooms typologies are what some may consider the traditional classroom layout whereby the teacher would stand at the front of the classroom, tables laid out in front of them making it easy to address the class as a whole entity. One set of windows along the only exterior wall for all but the rooms at the end of the block provide a major source of light and views out into the area containing the allotments with secondary source of light being attained by the roof lights high into the room. Some classrooms are separated by sliding walls to provide the flexibility and links to the group study rooms, which also double as theatrical performance spaces, the aspect of flexibility is a core requirement of the modern curriculum and is utilised in a functional way here. Each also offers direct access to outdoor play space or landscape areas. Secret openings unravel transparent internal rainwater harvesting pipes; exposed brick courses in classrooms and the main hall are perforated to facilitate ventilation or

attenuate acoustics. (Ijeh, 2010) The school provides ample facilities for local people, most prominently a multi-purpose community room with a separate access and alarm system to enable this aspect of the building to remain in use out of hours and during the weekend. Julia Simpson states, “Its an essential requirement of our school. We already run parent and toddler courses, literacy classes, a drop-in centre for local youth workers, we’re keen to extend this to other community groups. You find that many community facilities aren’t well used and they are all about installing confidence, particularly with people for whom English might not be their first language. We have a high proportion of families in this area whom this applies to and we’re thrilled when mothers particularly tell us that they want to use our facilities because they feel confident in our school environment.” (Ijeh, 2010)

Figure 34: The building fabric sets the entrance apart

Figure 35: The main corridor linking the classrooms together.

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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A Comparative Analysis: standardised Alongside Bespoke In this study there have been three different views and methods of design for primary schools: completely bespoke designs in the form of Sandal Magna Community School and St Silas CE Primary School; Completely standardised designs as seen Ashcombe Primary School; and a bespoke design with a standardised construction present in Lime Tree Primary Academy, with each school providing positive elements of architectural design. By comparing each school to one another and with the EFA Baseline design for a two form entry primary school these elements should come to fruition. Building form: The five different schools represent a range of building solutions for primary schools whether it be the three storey building of St Silas or a one storey design shown in Sandal Magna, Lime Tree and Ashcombe. The form of the school building is almost entirely dependant on the site on which it is located, for instance the solution at Ashcombe or Sandal Magna would not be feasible for St Silas School because of the nature of the site and vice versa. The schools at Sandal Magna, St Silas and Lime Tree were each designed in a bespoke manner as appropriate for that particular school of which the materiality of the façade reflects that also. At St Silas a series of colourful fins wrapped around the building exudes a playful mix of transparency and lightness (Boyce, 2015) evoking the aspect of play that St Silas adopt into their curriculum. Sandal Magna uses the surrounding vernacular to help shape its building envelope with a mix of redbrick and contemporary timber finishes combining to make a dynamic, but not always successful façade (see case study for Ijeh, 2010 comment about lack of visual unity). Lime Tree also took inspiration from its surrounding context when making its façade, this decision reflects the forest school curriculum applied to the school, “... the metal Trespa rain-screen cladding panels are arranged in a triangular motif, coloured in various shades of green, to abstractly mimic the veins of a leaf.” (Ijeh, 2013) Ashcombe on the other hand has a much more conservative approach to their façade with a simple white render with timber and brickwork accents keeping the envelope to a minimalist style, fitting perfectly in with the Baseline Guidance (see appendix??)

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Interior Environments: Natural light is key in almost any building especially in places of learning, and it has been proven on many occasions that pupils attainment increases in better building and classroom environments (Barret, et al, 2012) with factors that include the amount of natural light and air quality. All of the case studies previously analysed have copious amounts of natural light streaming into all major spaces in the school, whether it be aided through the use of roof lighting as shown in Sandal Magna, Lime Tree and Ashcombe or through multiple orientated windows in the St Silas classrooms. It is not just natural light that is a determining factor of the environment of a school a well ventilated space also helps to keep a class alert and comfortable. The Baseline designs utilise natural ventilation through the vent shafts that reach from the roof to the ground floor promoting the flow of air through the classrooms, however the same method has been used by Sandal Magna in a more effective way and also the shafts add to the aesthetics of the building in a way that reminisces of the industrial past of the area. St Silas and Lime Tree don’t have this issue because the classrooms have the ability to open windows on multiple walls creating cross ventilation through all spaces. Circulation: Lime Tree uses a slightly different form of circulation to get between classrooms, all of the classrooms are grouped together into four pavilions and each have access to a shared ‘breakout area’ therefore reducing the requirement for corridors, each pavilion incidentally is connected through what the school call the ‘Avenue’ a large covered but open air walkway linking the outside to the existing older school block. The same method of circulation can partly be said for St Silas whereby the classrooms are generally formed into blocks but they’re connected through a series of indoor and outdoor shared, flexible spaces of learning, again limiting the amount of corridor space needed and putting that allocation back into educational areas. While Sandal Magna and the Baseline Design use a more conventional corridor spine set up to link the teaching spaces, Ashcombe manages to bring all of the above methods of circulation together into a street that has a direct access to all of the teaching spaces while also accommodating shared, flexible learning areas,

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


it would seem judging by the comments made by the head teachers (see interview A, line 62; interview D, line 46; Appendix A, line 11) that these new multipurpose methods are the best way to utilise the circulation space. Provisions for Staff Facilities: Staff are just as important to a school as the children (see interview A, line 120; interview D, line 68) therefore staff provisions must be at an equal standard to that of the teaching areas, certainly at St Silas and Lime Tree this is the case, it must be made known that a fair judgement cannot be made on the standard of Sandal Magna or even Ashcombe as they have not been ascertained first hand, however observations based on the typologies of these spaces show that Sandal Magna and the Baseline provide a much more generous amount of staff provision than at Ashcombe, as previously scrutinised in Case Study 1. It must never be forgotten that without teachers, learning cannot take place in a school environment and that the teacher effectively governs how the pupils are taught so it is vital that teachers are also kept in high regard in the school environment.

its inability to accommodate the whole school, that space was directly based upon and has the exact same area of that in the Baseline Design for a two form entry school, leading to speculate that the same issue will continue to arise and befall future schools based around these parameters set out in the guidelines. It is a major point of contention based on the case studies that have been presented earlier in the study and will most likely need to be addressed if school buildings are to become the best they can be to benefit all whom occupy them.

Typologies: Ultimately the classroom is the most important space in a school, or is it? Yes the classroom provides a base from which primary learning can take place in a school but by no means can everything take place in a classroom. A good school values this and is designed accordingly and in such a way that it offers a multitude of spaces and environments for children to thrive in, whether it be in the form of a farm area or a row of allotments where the children can learn about and engage with nature or a place that offers a whole host of different spaces playtime and imaginations can roam freely, for at least some of the school day. It is these aspects that the Government Baselines fail to address in a positive manner. Perhaps then it came as quite a relief for some when the Educational Funding Agency announced that the Baseline Designs wouldn’t necessarily have to be strictly adhered to, moreover they’re a guidance for what the Government will be looking for and judging future school designs against as part of the PSBP procurement process. Referring back to the topic of the size of the school hall in Ashcombe and Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


Conclusions:

Is a standardised method of design the future of primary school architecture? Yes it can be, at least for the foreseeable future however it does not spell the end for bespoke designs. “the suspicion that standardisation diminishes quality is perhaps a remnant of the age old debate as to whether architecture is principally driven by art or necessity, standardisation merely sets out the parameters of design, how the designer and/or architect then chooses to interpret and respond to them is far more the result of their own skill than constraints or opportunities presented by the process.� (Ijeh, 2012) The Keynes2 model at Ashcombe Primary, and up and down the country, along with Lime Tree provide excellent examples of how to successfully manipulate standardisation into a good architecture worthy of recognition. Incidentally both schools were designed by the same architect, Atkins, one of a number of architects that have grown to embrace standardisation in their designs for schools.

and improve the educational curriculum across the UK, there’s no discernible reason why standardised elements cannot accompany bespoke design. Unquestionably if more and more architects accept standardisation as another design tool, rather than a hindrance, to enhance bespoke ideas and concepts, then the future of primary school buildings, and indeed all school buildings will once again reach the heights that they did back in the 19th century, this process will not happen over night, but if architects and designers use the same innovative approach to pragmatic design and functional flexibility that once existed in the Victorian era, it could well secure an enduring legacy for this new generation of standardised schools (Ijeh, 2012). Were not talking about a Revolution in design just the next step in Evolution, as is natural in all things.

As previously stated the age of bespoke designs is not over, the BSF promoted innovative and bespoke designs for the particular area/school but went about it in the wrong way, resulting in excessive amounts of capital being spent on a bureaucratic procurement process and a major delay in deliverance of the promised schools. Sandal Magna Community Primary School is an exemplar for what could have been achieved, in the years that the BSF scheme funded UK schools, if appropriate factors had been met, for instance a consistent design process across the whole of the programme would have enabled significant cost savings in the procurement process alone while also allowing the scheme to learn from its mistakes and successes. (James, 2011) St Silas CE Primary School represents the completely bespoke school building of which, because it was completely bespoke, is also the most expensive school present in this study, however if this school had be built during the BSF period it could be speculated that the school would have costed considerably more due to the procurement costs at that time. Nonetheless bespoke design deserves a place in the architecture of schools, it can give teachers and pupils specialised spaces of which innovative learning and teaching can flourish Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Bibliography:

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Branson, A (2013) Do the maths, Building Magazine. Issue 35, .p.32-35

Cover Image: Lee Newell Figure 1: Department for Education Figure 2: Department for Education Figure 3: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 4: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 5: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 6: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 7: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 8: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 9: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 10: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 11: Willmott Dixon/ Sunesis Figure 12: Building Magazine Figure 13: Lee Newell Figure 14: Lee Newell Figure 15: Lee Newell Figure 16: Lee Newell Figure 17: Lee Newell Figure 18: Lee Newell Figure 19: Lee Newell Figure 20: Lee Newell Figure 21: Lee Newell Figure 22: Lee Newell Figure 23: Lee Newell Figure 24: Lee Newell Figure 25: Lee Newell Figure 26: Lee Newell Figure 27: Lee Newell Figure 28: Lee Newell Figure 29: Lee Newell Figure 30: Mark Hadden Figure 31: Mark Hadden Figure 32: Mark Hadden Figure 33: Mark Hadden Figure 34: Mark Hadden Figure 35: Mark Hadden

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Appendix A: Interview: St Silas CE Primary School Hillary Hinchliff, Head Teacher. 30 - 01 - 2015 1. What would you say makes a school successful? Both as a building and as an 2. educational establishment? 3. What makes a primary school in particular successful is that our key aim is to foster a love 4. of learning in children, so we are preparing them and giving them the grounding and the 5. basics in order for them to continue their learning as they go through life. For me that is the 6. absolute be all and end all if we can get them inspired and love learning. 7. What are your opinions on the architectural quality of the school. Would you say it is 8. of a bespoke design? 9. The school is definitely of a bespoke design and it had to be due to the size of the site. 10. Therefore in some respects we were hindered and hampered because it is a tiny site, but in 11. other ways we benefited from it, other schools that had been built in the area had been built 12. with an off the shelf design because they have the space and can arrange the buildings 13. wherever they want. This school had to be thought about exceedingly carefully and because 14. of that it is absolutely bespoke, not just as a building but as an educational establishment, 15. and we had an involvement right from day one in the design of this building and it has really 16. been built with education in mind. 17. Again we have been lucky and lucky because we had been missed off the list of schools that 18. needed rebuilding for years and years with primary funding, the main reason being they 19. didn’t have anywhere to re-locate the school while the reconstruction would be taking place. 20. It was widely recognised that ours was the worst school building in the whole of Blackburn 21. and Darwen and it was known that we needed a new school but the practicalities of moving 22. 400 children and 70 staff somewhere in the 2 years it would take to build was proving 23. difficult. We missed the boat because the primary funding had finished by the time we were 24. given the go ahead for the new building, but it was really on the back of the LEP (Local 25. Enterprise Partnership) and in partnership with Balfour Beatty and Capita Symonds, and 26. Blackburn and Darwen that had built the secondary schools, so Balfour and Capita had the 27. contract for those schools and it was on the back of that along with Blackburn and Darwen 28. providing the money, and then one of the secondary schools offering us accommodation that 29. enabled it to proceed. 30. After seeing the classrooms and teaching spaces for the first time, what were your first 31. impressions of them architecturally? Have your views changed as you have seen them 32. used educationally. 33. Yes. When I first saw them obviously you have a set footprint and spacial area so the way 34. they were designed, but they talked to us about the design, and because of the way we teach 35. and learn is fairly unique in a way, the way we wanted to organise our classrooms be what 36. furniture go in as a basic had to not impinge on the rest of the classroom. There were two 37. things; a teaching wall on one side and a wall of storage on the other, a feature we applied to 38. all the classrooms which has worked really well. In terms of lighting we have natural light 39. strips which are fantastic, we really love them, the fact that all the classrooms are fairly open 40. to the outside, with glazed walls at least on one side, if not both in some cases, and when we 41. first looked around the school before we took ownership it looked lovely but very cold in its 42. interior finishings. The Architect preferred the minimalist white and grey finish though 43. within a day or two of moving in the teachers had stuck things all over his lovely glass 44. walls, of which he nearly died. He has since grown to love it, but it is changes like that 45. which the architect and interior designers had one vision of how it should all look and we 46. have another because educationally you have to use that space, the white is brilliant for Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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47. displays but is not what he had intended. 48. Yes I noticed walking into the school that you have a strip of glazing that is used as a 49. display case for the children’s’ work. Am I right in thinking too that below that is a 50. double height space? 51. Yes, I have my own window at my desk that I can see right down into that particular space. 52. How would you rate the environmental quality of the interior spaces? Are they well 53. ventilated and thermally comfortable? 54. They are. Right from the start because we visited quite a lot of schools we knew with lots of 55. high-tech gadgets, but we stressed to the architects to keep it all simple, so for instance we 56. can open the windows, they’re not on a motor, its aspects like that we insisted we would do 57. ourselves, so yes they are well ventilated and thermally comfortable. As always with new 58. buildings there are hot and cold spots but they are much better than they were and it is very 59. well lit. 60. Do you think the circulation spaces are adequately sized to properly supervise the 61. children? 62. They’re absolutely brilliant again something we specified was for as many classrooms as 63. possible to open onto the outside, consequently we actually have hardly any corridor space 64. and all of it that was allotted has ended up in that double height area that we spoke of earlier 65. which in itself is not actually a corridor, its a flexible learning space with some cupboards 66. that open up into other things, we call it the ‘role play’ area for the children, so when they’re 67. not playing in there they can simply shut the cupboard and then others can use the space. We 68. also have teaching bays that act the same way. Therefore with the corridor space being used 69. in this way there is next to no issue with the movement around school in that way. 70. What is your opinion of the outdoor spaces? Do they work in terms of enhancing the 71. educational areas? 72. We are very limited because we are on a tiny site for a 2 form entry primary school, but the 73. very clever design managed to get us 3 levels of play; a courtyard on the ground floor, the 74. roof terrace on the first floor which wraps around the courtyard on 3 sides above the 75. classrooms and an astro-turf pitch on the roof of the second floor, meaning a lot more play 76. space than we previously had. There is a piece of land at the front of the school that the 77. architect had envisioned as for the local community, although it has been abused and has 78. been since we moved in so we are looking at building a fence in order to protect that area 79. and reclaim it for the school, which would be quite beneficial because it could give us a 80. ‘wild area’ so that we can partake in our mini bees activities that, at the moment, we haven’t 81. had much of an opportunity for, so once we have reclaimed that section the outside space is 82. great considering the size of the site. 83. What do you believe is the most important space in the school, whether it be indoor or 84. outdoor? 85. I think the most important spaces are the flexible spaces of the school that we keep for 86. multiple use such as the secret den (role play area) as a flexible learning area, the outdoor 87. classroom and the performance staircases that we have. All these spaces have multiple uses 88. and can be used by anyone at any time and for a variety of activities, this means that the 89. learning doesn’t have to be confined to just the classrooms, but again even though it is a 90. small site, they can take the children out across school and find areas to go to work, so its 91. having those flexible spaces that have been key. 92. Do you find that having the staircases, with the building being over multiple levels, an 54

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93. issue especially with the younger children? 94. Not really no. The only area of any contention would be the back staircase because that goes 95. up two flights but it is just a case of managing it, we know it is a potential trouble spot 96. therefore at times we know there is going to be movement we simply place teachers/ adults 97. there to ensure that things are being kept in check. The one thing that I would possibly 98. allude to is the management of playground circulation. From Ground floor to First floor you 99. can access those via an outdoor staircase and the slide, but to gain access to the top level you 100. do have to use an inside stairwell, and because of that the children sometimes 101. struggle with the concept of indoor and outdoor behaviour because at playtime 102. they’re running out to the playground and decide that they want to move levels but 103. they find it difficult that they’re entering the building so they then have to walk. That 104. is the only issue we have had. 105. Leading on from what you were just saying, if given the chance what aspects 106. would you change/ improve to the school: Architecturally? Educationally? And 107. why? 108. We talked to the architect about that particular issue a few weeks ago and they had 109. looked at a variety of different options to make sure that you could access it but they 110. hadn’t found a way to make it work, though he agreed that it would have been a 111. good change to make. The only other thing is that we have had quite a lot of 112. problems with the doors in that they open up outwards therefore it has created all 113. sorts of problems with leakages and functionally in that respect it just doesn’t work, 114. either sliding doors or even a lobby solution would potentially have helped because 115. with the doors constantly opening the wind blows through quite a lot of the time. 116. Those are the only two things that I would change, everything else were very happy 117. with. 118. How would you rate the staff provisions in the school building. Are they 119. adequate and well suited for the amount of staff that are present in the school 120. The staffroom is such a lovely area for the staff and it has made a really great 121. difference because staff well being is important too.

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Appendix B: Post Interview: St Silas CE Primary School Hillary Hinchliff, Head Teacher. 30 - 01 - 2015 1. When we had the initial meeting with the architect we (the school representatives) told the 2. architect what it was that is important to us in education, as we were talking he was 3. sketching and scribbling ideas down on a few pieces of tissue paper that I had laying around. 4. They were the very first attempts at a design based simply on what we found to be of 5. importance in the new school, the amazing part of the whole process is that when you look 6. at the school, as built, those initial sketches and concepts are strongly visible in the 7. architecture, for instance the school hall being entered at the base of the performing stairs, 8. that in turn link to the main entrance, the 3 levels of play with the building enclosing the 9. lower ground level. It is just great that the architect was able to translate the ideas and 10. convey them back to us so clearly and effectively.

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Appendix C: Post Interview: St Silas CE Primary School Michelle Battersby, Deputy Head Teacher. 30 - 01 - 2015 1. Before we met with the architect about how we wanted our new school to be, we travelled 2. across the country to various other schools and talked to the site managers and head teachers 3. about what aspects of their schools they would recommend and avoid, for example overly 4. complicated systems was an aspect that came up frequently due to their high maintenance 5. costs and basically the shortcomings of relying on computer systems to control the amount 6. of daylight coming in via automatic sun-shading devices and automatically opening 7. windows when the room reaches a certain temperature. We also saw a fair few roof top 8. playgrounds which because of the constraints of our site was an aspect that we sought after 9. and a school which engaged with its surrounding community via a café. So before we met 10. the architect we had an idea of the amenities that we desired for the school but had no clue 11. of how it would sit on the site, likewise we held a community ‘focus’ meeting where we 12. invited the local residents, school governors, staff and parents, along with Capita, to share 13. what they were all looking for in the new school and what they weren’t so enthused about 14. which enforced our understanding of what the new school needed to be. From those 15. discussions he then went away, drew up the various planning drawings needed in a very 16. short space of time because we had 6 weeks from that meeting to gain planning permission 17. or we would have lost the funding for the school, so what Capita did was, on one night, they 18. went round all the immediate neighbours and made sure that there wasn’t any objections to 19. what was being planned, to my knowledge we didn’t receive any objections which shows 20. because the school went through planning on time.

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Appendix D: Interview: Lime Tree Primary Academy Simon Beswick, Executive Head Teacher. 02 - 02 - 2015 1. What would you say makes a school successful? Both as a building and as an 2. educational establishment? 3. In terms of the building its success is that it brings the outside in, creating different spaces 4. for children to learn in rather than just the boxed walls of a classroom, its moved beyond 5. that. The previous school, which was only built to be temporary structure in the 1950’s, had 6. a long corridor with lots of classrooms extending from it, but we battled the building and 7. used spaces that we could make into other areas. When we were given the opportunity to 8. have a new school built the questions that we gave to the architect was that we need to 9. avoid seeing the classroom as the only place in which children could learn, in turn providing 10. a variety of spaces such as; lots of break out spaces, unusual spaces, internal to external 11. spaces. 12. So you needed to provide that flexibility within the school in order to, instead of being 13. stuck in the classroom, be able to take the children outside for lessons? 14. Yes, rather than just have them all sat at a table at all times, that is our vision and our 15. learning principles. 16. On the educational side of things, we battled against the old building because the way we 17. constructed our curriculum means that it is an active one, again not just sitting at the table 18. and working through a sheet or a text book, etc. So the new building has played its role in 19. that magnificently and the success of that and the way we educate is that we connect 20. children to learning, we give them opportunities that extends beyond just Maths and 21. English, its about all subjects and the opportunities for children to enjoy their learning, the 22. basic fact being that if your not enjoying something then it is very unlikely that your going 23. to learn anything because your not engaging it with the middle part of your brain, if children 24. and/or staff aren’t engaged in the subject then it doesn’t work. Much of our success has been 25. around unpicking what makes children and adults learn, want to learn, want to know and do 26. more and become excited with what they do. 27. What are your opinions on the architectural quality of the school. Would you say it is 28. of a bespoke design? 29. Definitely of a bespoke design, It is all about the way in which the prefabricated elements 30. have been assembled and the use of different spaces means that a very simple set of 31. structures have been combined to meet the needs that we required, so in that sense it is 32. completely bespoke because it is suited and designed around our curriculum and our needs 33. as a school. 34. After seeing the classrooms and teaching spaces for the first time, what were your first 35. impressions of them architecturally? Have your views changed as you have seen them 36. used educationally. 37. Light and space are the things that come to mind when we saw the classrooms for the first 38. time, high ceilings, usable spaces, vistas that you could look through to connect to wherever 39. you stood and then when it is being occupied by the children it all comes alive. You can see 40. how the decisions that were made in the initial stages are now impacting on childrens’ 41. learning environment and their individual learning. 42. How would you rate the environmental quality of the interior spaces? Are they well 43. ventilated and thermally comfortable? 44. Yes and yes. As long as the staff know to adjust the thermostat. 45. Do you think the circulation spaces are adequately sized to properly supervise the 46. children? 58

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47. There are no corridors in the conventional sense in the new area of the school so that 48. allocated space was designed into break out spaces so in each pavilion there is a middle 49. space that is almost the size of a classroom in itself. There is also no corridors linking each 50. of the key stages together apart from the covered internal/external space (known as the 51. Avenue) all of the classrooms also open up onto the outside due to their positions on the 52. perimeter of the building. 53. What is your opinion of the outdoor spaces? Do they work in terms of enhancing the 54. educational areas? 55. They do, we are very fortunate in that the footprint of the building doesn’t take very much 56. from the land so that means that we could implement our ideas for the outside a lot more 57. successfully. We have a forest school area and a farm which can then engage with the 58. building via the Avenues or the courtyards, within the pavilions, that then bring the outside 59. in. This is also achieved due to the expanses of glass that each pavilion and classroom has. 60. What do you believe is the most important space in the school, whether it be indoor or 61. outdoor? 62. The crossing in the Avenue where you can see in all directions is the most important for me, 63. it is a space that all children will use at some point and also at the beginning and ends of the 64. day it is a place where, when the gates are open, families can travel through this space also 65. meaning that it is a powerful space and an indicator, whereby you can stand in the centre of 66. the crossing and see what our school is about. 67. How would you rate the staff provisions in the school building. Are they 68. adequate and well suited for the amount of staff that are present in the school? 69. We have great staffroom spaces, because our school is essentially an extension or moreover 70. a replacement for the old schools teaching spaces, we kept the main administrative spaces 71. that were provided in the old school. This actually means that we have a surplus of 72. administrative and training spaces in the school as a whole which has been a major benefit 73. to us as a staff cohort whereby we have a number of different spaces where we can relax and 74. get away from the teaching for just a few moments, also because we have the extra spaces 75. we actually hold conferences and teacher training days here at Lime Tree which can hold 76. around 80 people on an average day. 77. If given the chance what aspects would you change/ improve to the school: 78. Architecturally? Educationally? And why? 79. The only aspect that I would say really needs work as a whole school building is the school 80. hall which is fairly old fashioned, when you walk in it doesn’t seem as a part of the school 81. as it is now and it is an area of considerable size and that area needs to be looked at 82. carefully, for example we have a dining room which, by a means of bespoke furniture, is an 83. area that is not simply used for lunchtime but is used as a flexible space throughout the day 84. and we would look at the hall as being a multi-functional space along those same guidelines. 85. But for the rest of the school I haven’t come across an area that I would change due to the 86. process that we went through and were involved from the start with the local authority, 87. planners and the architect and worked closely together we designed a school that completely 88. fulfilled our needs, and working from the beginning was absolutely essential for the school 89. to become what we wanted. From the very first interviews for the job, I was sat in there and 90. we had input into those questions straight away, and it was with those questions that those 91. practices came in and if they had read and fully understood what we were needing from the 92. school they could determine the direction we wanted, and the clever ones really had the Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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93. vision to not just give us a box, but they had to think outside of that box. That was why we 94. chose Atkins because what they came up with completely blew us away, I had tears in my 95. eyes when they presented the concept because it was just a beautiful representation of what 96. we wanted, they had also clearly conducted research into what the school was, where we are 97. now and what our philosophy is so they were the perfect choice in the end. 98. Your school at present is a two form entry, if the building was extended further in the 99. same manner of the new construction, do you believe that a larger form entry would 100. benefit the school? Or is two form entry the optimum that you would choose to be? 101. Some would say that two from is enough due to the amount of pupils attending, we 102. for instance have around 420 children and then a further 30-40 in the foundation 103. years. I would go for a three form entry all through school also the building has been 104. designed and built to be able to extend to an extra floor so if we did pursue that route 105. then it would be entirely possible.

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Appendix E: Press Release: St Silas CE Primary School Chris Boyce, Architect Capita Symonds. 2015 1. The original St Silas School was placed on the hilltop North West of Blackburn town 2. centre in 1884; it came first before the houses on St Silas and Clematis streets, and 3. even the Church which followed in 1894; so education mattered, visible to all. 4. As time passed, and the area around the school changed in demographic, 5. religious and social mix, the school filled its roll, with many more children added 6. each year, and reached bursting point at 400+ pupils in 2010. 7. The old building was still as solid as the day it was built, dominant on the 8. skyline of smooth red brick, cut sandstone, slate and high windows, with no views. It 9. was good solid stock, not inspired but of its time and no longer able to serve its pupils 10. after many abortive and poor extensions. The School had needed replacing for twenty 11. years said some of the locals, who had lived on St Silas Road at least that long, others 12. even longer. Generations of children, now adults, will remember the neo-gothic front 13. door, the faces of teachers long since retired and friends now moved away; but they 14. will also recall the tight spaces, dark classrooms, lack of a school Hall and the tiny 15. kitchen full of ever smiling, hard working dinner ladies washing up by hand. 16. The school had no social spaces, and no real school hall for congregation, the 17. community stood at a distance when dropping and collecting their children, nearly all 18. in walking distance and missing out on a chance to be part of a school community. 19. Some specific cultural aspects stopped fathers from spending time in school and 20. parents seldom dwelt long enough to participate in reading or play. 21. Some would argue a building can’t change these things, and whilst the school 22. was academically outstanding there is always space to improve the delivery of 23. education and the style of delivery; no group space, individual space and no 24. performance space there was a limit to the curriculum that could be delivered. 25. The first meeting for our local team was to discuss how to secure the funding 26. for the replacement school; reserved at £7 million in 2010/11, with the 2010 autumn 27. spending review just four months away there was always a chance the money set 28. aside for this much needed investment might be withdrawn. 29. The outcome was to target a full planning consent by the end of September, it 30. was June already, and even more hopeful was a plan to demolish the old school, 31. giving no option but to fund the new school, during the half term holiday in October. 32. The primary physical challenge of the scheme was the size of the existing site 33. which, at just 60 metres by 40 metres and bounded on all sides by a retaining wall 34. over 125 years old, was considerably less than the typical recommended BB99 site 35. allowance. 36. The design team and head teacher had a philosophical belief that every 37. classrooms should have direct access to external play space and be able to access 38. breakout spaces; the key environmental driver being good natural light and natural 39. ventilation. In order to maximise volume on site and to overcome height and planning 40. issues adjacent to a conservation area, the team utilised the steeply sloping site 41. topography, resulting in a three storey solution which is layered over and pushed into 42. the site with a ground floor over 4 meters below ground level at the rear of the site. 43. Though you would never realise until a parent walks past the high level 44. windows overlooking the dining hall and waves down to their son...... 45. The overall form comprises four linked blocks wrapping around a secure play 46. courtyard: a single storey block with a rooftop play deck along Clematis Street creates Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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47. a landscape of soft rubber ‘meerkat’ mounds and a juxtaposition with the Pennines in 48. the distance when viewing to the South, this is then linked to the ground with a tube 49. slide at which the children form an orderly queue every break. This design allows for 50. over 800 sq m of useable play space off the ground level, over 400 sq m more than 51. was previously provided on the existing flat site. The disposition of the interlocking 52. blocks is laid out to maximise teaching spaces and allow different learning styles with 53. flexible indoor and outdoor teaching areas. The year groups spiral up in plan around 54. the courtyard with the eldest at the top of the school. The flow between these blocks 55. allows flexibility for whole school activity; and community events while the library is 56. accessible from the main foyer and acts as a bridge through the hall with a large 57. window to the street, again encouraging community and parental use. 58. To the North two three-storey blocks of class rooms are linked at roof level by 59. a large expressed truss bridge, home to an astro turf mini-football pitch again hidden 60. from the street but with views to the Pennines and across the Mary Poppins urban 61. landscape of chimneys and roof ridges. 62. The main hall block with staff accommodation on top is a linked internal 63. volume with a glazed atrium over two floors and opens to an external public space. 64. This is the pivotal internal space in the school - a 'through' entrance hall – is focused 65. on a cascade of giant steps, acting as a central gathering space to provide a stopping 66. point in the mornings, a special space for learning, or even a small performance 67. venue. The play of light and colour is deliberate throughout the school, with coloured 68. perspex step in-fills flooding dining areas with a rainbow of light. The 'wrapping 69. elevation cladding system is a series of coloured, translucent and solid perspex fins 70. designed to create a cost effective rapid solution to enclose the otherwise relatively 71. cheap envelope. This allows the building to appear as a single mass, but also breaks 72. up the facades as the viewer moves past the building with the whole exuding a playful 73. mix of transparency and lightness.

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Appendix F: Letter to Willmott Dixon: Ashcombe Primary School Peter Turner, Head Teacher. 2013 Dear Andy, I am very happy to offer this open testimonial on behalf of the school to support your nomination for the Building Awards. I wish you every success as the building you have given continues to inspire our work. The first thing to say about the school is that it is like no other. its open design means that everyone feels part of the whole. Not one square meter of space is wasted, it all supports childrens learning. The sheer size of the non classroom spaces, especially with the cathedral like height, produce a calm atmosphere that everyone values. The natural light is extensive due to to the large amount of glass but this is enhanced by high quality lighting too. Despite its vast size the building is permanently warm but never too hot or stuffy. It provides the perfect working atmosphere for young children and the adults working with them. Even wet lunchtimes (previously a nightmare) are enjoyable. I can walk down both streets within a minute or so and in that time monitor all 420 children and my 34 class based staff. The classrooms are proving to be ideal centres for learning with the flexibility for groups or individuals to take their learning outside or into the street as needed. Children are working alongside other age groups and learning vital collaborative skills and developing greater independence away from the teachers. Teachers leave their doors open throughout the day enhancing the free-flow of learning, the four glass cubicles provide great spaces for staff to prepare lessons (providing a great role model to the children watching) and for individual or paired tuition. The quality of finishes you have given us is high, despite the tight budget constraints we were all under. The wood effect vinyl flooring works so well and has a great impact visually. The barrier matting is reducing any marks on the classroom carpets which still look in great condition after 6 months of heavy use. The cloakroom areas are professional looking and an efficient use of the limited space. The main reception and other areas are ideally situated and support professional working practices that few schools can achieve. The children, staff and parents feel that they are special to have been given such a beautiful school. I have attached the sentences written by each class in a recent shared writing exercise. Every visitor over the past six months has commented very positively about so many different aspects. Each time we have had different events the buildings flexibility has shown itself. Just last Friday my PTA committee were able to set up an extensive Xmas fayre in the two streets, junction and hall whilst all 14 classes continued their regular lessons in the afternoon. At 3.15pm the doors were thrown open and 800 people enjoyed the fayre without it ever feeling over-crowded. Our profits were 58% higher than the same event last year. We had held a wonderful family disco and the year 6 leavers’ party disco. In the former we had the hall/junction partition open allowing an easy flow between the music and dancing and quiet areas for refreshments. With the children the partition was closed and although the music was booming in the hall the junction was peaceful showing the quality of the sound proofing of that partition. In the summer months we had the folding doors at the end of the hall permanently open producing and outdoor feel of freshness to the whole building. In conclusion we are loving our new school and the thought that others will soon be benefiting from its design across the UK makes us feel very proud. We wish you every success with its development in the future. You have given us a wonderful learning space that many children will benefit from in the coming years. Thanks again to yourself, Paul Marlow and the team. It really was a pleasure to work with you all. Peter Turner, Headteacher Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?

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Appendix G: James Review: A Summary of Contents 2011 In July 2010, the Government launched a comprehensive review of all capital investment funded by the Department for Education, the purpose of the being to consider the Department for Education’s existing capital expenditure and make recommendations on the future delivery models for capital investment for 2011-12 onwards. The overall aim of the Review was to ensure that future capital investment will provide good value for money and strongly support the Government’s ambitions to reduce the deficit, raise standards, tackle disadvantage, address building condition and meet the requirement for school places resulting from an increase in the birth rate. The main issues identified in the current processes are: i. The capital allocation process is complex, time consuming, expensive and opaque. In most cases, decisions are not based on objective criteria which are consistently applied and do not succeed in targeting money efficiently to where it is needed. There are too many different approaches across the various programmes and keynote programmes such as Building Schools for the Future had an approach that, with hindsight, was expensive and did not get to schools with the greatest need fast enough. ii. The design and procurement process for the Building Schools for the Future programme (and other strategic programmes) was not designed to create either high and consistent quality or low cost. Procurement starts with a sum of money rather than with a specification, designs are far too bespoke, and there is no evidence of an effective way of learning from mistakes (or successes). iii. A lack of expertise on the client side meant that there was little opportunity to improve building methods in order to lower costs over time, especially for very large and complex Building Schools for the Future projects. The main clients for contracting companies were Local Authorities and head teachers. As a result, despite many hundreds of schools being addressed by the Building Schools for the Future programme, central mechanisms to engineer better solutions were too weak and Partnerships for Schools did not have enough authority to make this happen effectively. iv. Devolved funding processes did not deliver efficiently the objectives that they were established to achieve. Multiple funding streams diverted funds to those most adept at winning bids rather than necessarily to those in most need. There was little tracking of how money was spent and wide variations in outcome for the same money invested in similar projects. v. Maintenance is critical to controlling the lifetime cost of schools and the quality of maintenance across the estate is extremely variable. This is exacerbated by the fact that no good quality data is collected on the condition of the estate. vi. The regulatory and planning environment is far too complex and hostile for building schools. The individual nature of the buildings that have been built historically also meant that every project had to run the gauntlet of these regulations.

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Recommendations: Capital investment and apportionment should be based on objective facts and use clear, consistently-applied criteria. Allocation should focus on the need for high-quality school places and the condition of facilities. Demand-led programmes, such as Free Schools, are most sensibly funded from the centre and a centrally retained budget should be set aside for them. The Department should avoid multiple funding streams for investment that can and should be planned locally, and instead apportion the available capital as a single, flexible budget for each local area, with a mandate to include ministerial priorities in determining allocations. Notional budgets should be apportioned to Local Authority areas, empowering them fully to decide how best to reconcile national and local policy priorities in their own local contexts. The local prioritisation decisions should be captured in a short local investment plan. There should be light-touch central appraisal of all local plans before an allocated plan of work is developed so that themes can be identified on a national level and scale-benefits achieved. Individual institutions should be allocated an amount of capital to support delivery of small capital works and ICT provision. The Department ensures there is access to clear guidance on legal responsibilities in relation to maintenance of buildings, and on how revenue funding can be used for facility maintenance. The Department revises its school premises regulations and guidance to remove unnecessary burdens and ensure that a single, clear set of regulations apply to all schools. There should be a clear, consistent Departmental position on what fit-for-purpose facilities entail. A suite of drawings and specifications should be developed that can easily be applied across a wide range of educational facilities. These should be co-ordinated centrally to deliver best value. The standardised drawings and specifications must be continuously improved through learning from projects captured and co-ordinated centrally. Post occupancy evaluation will be a critical tool to capture this learning. As many projects as possible currently in the BSF and Academy pipeline should be able to benefit from the Review’s findings to ensure more efficient procurement of high quality buildings. This should be an early priority to identify where this could be done. The Central Body should put in place a small number of new national procurement contracts that will drive quality and value from the programme of building projects ahead. Establish a central delivery body and procurement model, whereby the pipeline of major projects – to a scale determined by the Department – is procured and managed centrally with funding retained centrally for that purpose. The Department quickly takes steps to maximise the value for money delivered though maintenance and small projects and puts in place a simple and clear national contract to make this happen.

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Appendix H: Baseline Design Guidance: 2012 Baseline designs: background to their development: The Education Funding Agency (EFA) developed the baseline designs in response to a recommendation in the Review of Education Capital, in April 2011, led by Sebastian James. The review called for a suite of standardised drawings and specifications which could be applied across a wide range of educational facilities. The designs are examples of how the requirements of the Priority School Building Programme’s PFI facilities output specification can be met within cost and area allowances. They are suitable for both primary and secondary schools, and detailed enough to enable environmental modelling and to establish building costs. Initially, the baseline designs will be used to help finalise briefs for school building projects and for discussion with local planning departments. Contractors can develop them into detailed schemes, or propose alternatives. We expect the baseline designs to evolve in response to feedback, and intend to add further versions. Cost and area allowances: So that as many schools as possible are able to benefit from the available funding, EFA was asked to reduce the gross area funded for schools, and the cost per square metre. The funding for school buildings is now £1113/m² (excluding external works, particular circumstances and fees). This is the level currently achieved by free schools and academies. Reductions in area have been achieved without compromising teaching or school organisation. In secondary schools, teaching spaces and non-teaching areas are within the same minimum limits as before. The number of teaching spaces also remains the same. The main reduction in area of primary schools has been achieved by omitting an ICT room, as this provision is no longer a default requirement due to the widespread use of portable ICT equipment in classrooms. The new area guidelines were discussed and agreed with the relevant advisory bodies covering the teaching of science, art, design and technology, performing arts, ICT and also libraries. They were also rigorously tested against a range of curriculum and organisational models. Sports halls have not been reduced in area. How the baseline designs have been costed The baseline designs have been costed and are achievable within the funding allocation. This has been achieved by: efficient wall to floor ratios within the parameters of the design solution (for example, wall to floor ratios in the ‘finger block’ will be inherently less efficient than in the ‘superblock’, however the finger block is inherently more flexible in relation to more challenging site shapes and topography) using orthogonal forms with no curves or ‘faceted’ curves, having minimal indents, ‘dog legs’ and notches in the plan shapes maximising stacking where possible (for example, uniformity of block height, adherence to structural grid as much as possible to minimise transfer structures, stacking of toilet cores where possible) efficient circulation layouts design replication (for example, elements of layouts can be replicated across more than one site reducing re-design costs, particularly in the secondary finger block) design repetition (for example, limiting the range of window sizes/types) Specification reductions, rationalisations and omissions have also been applied to ensure affordability. Examples include: external envelope specifications (no glazed curtain walling or ETFE roofs, low cost envelope materials such as render or metal panel, above ground floor window head height, optimisation of window areas as a per66

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?


centage of classroom external wall area and no external roof terraces) internal materials and finishes specifications (basic specification solid core doors, no folding partitions, basic stair and balustrading finishes, fair faced concrete soffits) mechanical and electrical specifications (no internal CCTV other than to the main entrance, reduced lighting specifications, simplified building controls and energy management system in place of complex building management system) The above are examples where savings have been made. However, we make no compromises, and continue to seek improvement, regarding optimum environmental conditions for learning. We achieve this through: a robust natural ventilation strategy, including the provision of thermal mass where necessary sufficient levels of balanced glare-free daylight to classrooms, without overheating Area Every baseline design meets the schedule of accommodation required with no extra area. This has been achieved by economic planning, for example minimising circulation area by having double loaded corridors. A core level of flexibility has been achieved within the area, for example the primary solution allows for the option in the junior suite of 62m2 classrooms with just a food bay, or 55 metre-squared classrooms and a specialist space. Schools larger than 2FE have a small hall as well as a main hall, and this offers the option of using one as a dining hall. The secondary school designs can be adapted to suit a range of curriculum models. Area allowances The funding for the gross areas of new school buildings is based on new formulae. For secondary schools the new formula is: 1050m² (+ 350m² if there is a sixth form) + 6.3m²/pupil place for 11- to 16 year olds + 7m²/pupil place for post-16s. For primary schools the new formula is: 350m² + 4.1m²/pupil place. School Premises Regulations and design guidance Revised school premises regulations for maintained schools come into force on 31 October 2012. Their requirements, and the supporting guidance, are reflected in the output specification and therefore in the baseline designs. The Department for Education produced various pieces of guidance on the design of schools and school facilities, which is now under review. Revised guidance is likely to be published during 2013 and 2014. The baseline designs have been developed in anticipation of likely changes.

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Appendix I: CABE: 10 Criteria for Successful School Design 2011 The following criteria provide a framework for reviewing design proposals for school renewal projects. 1. Identity and context: making a school the students and community can be proud of 2. Site plan: making the best use of the site 3. School grounds: making assets of the outdoor spaces 4. Organisation: creating a clear diagram for the buildings 5. Buildings: making form, massing and appearance work together 6. Interiors: creating excellent spaces for learning and teaching 7. Resources: deploying convincing environmental strategies 8. Feeling safe: creating a secure and welcoming place 9. Long life, loose fit: creating a school that can adapt and evolve in the future 10. Successful whole: making a design that works in the round.

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Acknowledgements:

Thank you Jamie Scott, not only for your guidance and for aiding me with what direction to push this study in but also for your patience throughout. it has been much appreciated. To those who took the time to partake in the interviews and those who supplied vital information and content for this peice of writing, thank you all!

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Standardised schools or bespoke designs? The ongoing debate in the UK at present about how we should be designing and building our schools. 2003 saw the rise of one of the largest and arguably most ambitious capital programmes of its kind in the UK, the £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme had the aim to reinvigorate the whole educational sector through a method of renovating or rebuilding and every Secondary school building in the UK. Not long after its launch there came a second programme known as the Primary Capital Programme (PCP) which was tasked with rejuvenating the primary schools in the UK but on a lesser scale. However the BSF had many large issues not least that in the first 4 years, of the 200 schools that were due to be complete only 42 rebuilds had been finished causing massive ripples through the whole scheme. When the current government came into office in 2010 they immediately scrapped the programme in order to stop the problem getting any bigger and they also began a review into why the scheme failed and what could be learnt from it. The James review subsequently was published in 2011 and outlined the entire BSF programme and drew up a series of recommendations for future programmes, one of which was that a collection of Baseline Designs and Guidelines be produced in order for procurement processes and design processes could be streamlined in order to not only save money but improve the whole educational state. From this review and using the Baseline designs and guides the government set up a new scheme known as the Priority Schools building programme (PSBP) which would cut out the complexity of the BSF and had the slightly more modest aims of refurbishing or rebuilding only the worst of the British schools to begin with using a standardised method of design. Some architects were and still are sceptical about standardisation in buildings as a pose to bespoke design. This study set out to determine whether standardisation can work with bespoke designs, by analysing a specific few primary schools from the last decade it has been shown on at least one occasion in this study that they’re not as mutually exclusive as some seem to believe, when used in the right way they can form great architecture and could ultimately begin to find a way of solving the issue that currently resides in our educational sector and potentially bringing about a new era of innovation in primary school design.

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?  

Evaluating the impact of Government budget cuts on primary school architecture and primary education - MArch Architecture Dissertation

Standardised Schools or Bespoke Design?  

Evaluating the impact of Government budget cuts on primary school architecture and primary education - MArch Architecture Dissertation

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