School architecture ban....

(15 Posts)
KitKatGirl1 Thu 04-Oct-12 17:46:54

Agreed, Bonsoir. Some of the recently built schools are beautiful and very aesthetically pleasing which I agree should be inspiring and uplifting, but are not necessarily practical. And when I see pictures of those huge atriums with open plan libraries etc etc etc I feel really sorry for those dcs with sensory issues who go there. It's bad enough that the modern primary school is too overwhelming for a large minority of children.

I would have hated an echoey, glass school myself and did perfectly well in my 1970s box style school.

Wrt to the corridors thing, I don't think it's 15% off the current regs, is it? Just off what the original BSF plan was?

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 20:01:18

My DSSs' school is beautiful from the outside - a 19th Parisian building.

L-shaped classrooms mean some pupils cannot even see the teacher, however.

Boxes would be good!

mummytime Belgium Wed 03-Oct-12 19:52:07

The big issue I see is that if they limit the overall budget, and you can only use standard boxes, what happens in an area like where I live where level building land is as rare as hens teeth or in the flood plane?
Never mind that these "standard boxes" are unproven and may not work, never mind be unflexible for the future needs of education. I've worked in a 1920s school which was great in its day but caused real problems for today: disabled access and leaking roofs being just two problems.

Eruditio Wed 03-Oct-12 18:33:40

Yes, I do wonder how many here who think 'school architecture doesn't matter' were educated in an underlit, crowded, bully-prone, cramped, echoey box?

It has been endlessly shown that environment affects behaviour and productivity.

I second wonkylegs- how about capping the cost and getting local architects in, with the 'no final tinkering' allowed clause in place?

Yes, public building can be ludicrously overpriced. Buy an office chair through NHS procurement and it'll cost you £120. Buy the same chair in OfficeWorks, £70. The second 'public' gets attached, costs mount as so many people, legitimate and not legitimate, want their skim of the cash.

Cut all that out and see that it's actually possible to design good schools on sensible budgets.

We're British, home of the original engineers!

PiggyBankMum Wed 03-Oct-12 18:27:33

For a building to work, it needs to be designed for it's location. School sites are not standard, some are on hills, some on busy roads etc etc.

I can't wait for the NIMBY response when a Cotswold market town gets a standard design plonked down on it's outskirts. And I do wonder how the government will ensure that each and every local planning department is ready to approve a 'one size fits all' design alongside wildly varying vernacular architecture.

All the Academies which trumpet the progress they have made have cited the importance of a fine building.

Of course buildings should be thrifty, and money should not be wasted.

It's just outrageous that they should seek to be so prescriptive.

All public builldings in Cuba are painted in a particular shade of blue inside to save money. How soviet we become under these tories!

PiggyBankMum Wed 03-Oct-12 18:22:37

Seriously, very little architecture built on a school budget is there for the sake of aesthetics alone or self indulgent.

Building design does affect behaviour, it is crucial to the way people use a building, to the security and natural surveillance within a building. Architecture is crucial to the acoustics in a building, which affects both learning and behaviour. This edict tramples on the pioneering developments in making schools sustainable and well insulated. Natural light within a building affects mood and behaviour.

Many pupils in schools which desparately need improvement come from sub standard housing. Children do know when they are gettiing the bargain basement in every way.

Parents know how important the school environment is - especially when choosing a private school with lovely buildings over a state school with basics.

Bonsoir Wed 03-Oct-12 18:21:32

Good architecture does not have to be unique architecture. On the contrary, there is much to be said for not trying to show off re-invent the wheel at every opportunity.

meditrina Wed 03-Oct-12 18:18:29

Standardised doesn't have to mean unattractive.

If corridors are not fit for purpose, then that bit does need to be fixed. But that's not incompatible with having standard design, saving money and thus being able to do things like build/update more schools.

wonkylegs Wed 03-Oct-12 18:15:27

The problem with the standardised prescriptive approach is that it'll probably end up being just as expensive. A lot of the wasted money in the Building Schools for the Future programme was wasted in the procurement route rather than the architects fees or build costs. It would be better to work with interesting local architects & construction practices to see what can be done with a budget, a proper brief, a design freeze (last minute tinkering & indecision by schools & authorities is prohibitively expensive) & a sensible procurement route. Many public buildings including good schools have been designed & built this way without costing millions over budget but that doesn't make headlines or friends with the BIG international & national construction firms that have sewn up public procurement.

PiggyBankMum Wed 03-Oct-12 18:14:56

Architecture makes no contribution to inspiration*. Everyone can work to their best in a low-ceilinged over-crowded box. Over-crowded corridors and cramped stairways are intrisic to maintaining an orderly civililsed discipline. Every community wants a big ugly shed plonked on ther doorstep - it could be quite funny when people get B&Q and the local school mixed up!

* otherwise we would not be seeing this initiative from those who enjoyed the soaring columns of Eton, would we? QED.

EvilTwins Wed 03-Oct-12 18:13:52

Have either of you read it? 15% cut in spaces like corridors. That's a ludicrous idea- corridors get crowded enough- if they were narrower (and darker- also a reduction in lightinghmm) then problems would be exacerbated. I used to teach in a secondary school where one half was built as a primary in the 1950s. The only way we could deal with the big-kids-small-corridor situation was to deliberately end our lessons at different times. They were hot spots for bullying, and teachers often couldn't diffuse situations before they began as we literally couldn't get there. Folding doors in classrooms are also useful- flexible teaching space is beneficial for all.

Also, why shouldn't schools be attractive buildings? I went to school in a 1960s box. It was hardly inspiring.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 18:08:07

I think you need to get rid of that chip on your shoulder TBH. All that guff about plebs and "only state school kids"

meditrina Wed 03-Oct-12 18:08:07

In the good times, the extra expense of innovative architect designs could be afforded (or we thought they could be). Some were good, but some were a bit white-elephant.

As the country is currently broke, I cannot see what is wrong with schools having a standard design. That's not a synonym for being inadequate.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Oct-12 18:06:20

Yes, because it's far better to spend the money on making it look pretty and curvey rather than on something that will actually benefit the children like an education.

LittenTree Wed 03-Oct-12 18:04:10

keep those plebby kids in boxes

Don't worry, it won't affect the new £2.5m Art and Design Hub at St Wealth's, will it? And they're only state school kids, they don't represent anything important like the country's future, after all, do they?

Interesting that the architects themselves have commented on the sheer patronisation of telling them how to design buildings, rather than set a £/m3 ceiling.

But then, Public school educated Tory-boys know everything don't they?

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