Category Children’s Spaces

The student response to the fantasy agenda

The studio programme had been set up so students had a range of different opportunities to develop their own individual design programme. They were asked to generate a strategic brief from the general literature on board schools, talks with school staff, a measured survey of their particular school and their own personal response to their individual site. They were also challenged to adopt some of the fragmentary and often fantastical pupil-generated ideas, using the design process as a line of enquiry into their project.

Most of the students found it easier to respond to the explicit agenda coming from teachers and school governors rather than creatively interpreting the fantasies generated by the pupils...

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New End School, Hampstead, London

Built in 1905 on a tight, steeply sloping site described as an ‘inadequate wedge of left-over land’, in what was then the poorer part of Hampstead, New End now epitomizes the more well-endowed board school. Pupil numbers have surged to 430 in the last 10 years and the accommodation is somewhat cramped. Consequently, classrooms have recently been added to the lower floor and on the roof. The school was listed in 1988 for its ‘one-off tall symmetrical design’ and its ‘strong contextual value’ (Saint, 1991, see Bibliography). The southern facade is an impressive assembly of redbrick and glass towering over the urban landscape of narrow alleys and small walkways from behind a high brick perimeter wall that seals off the whole site.

The students developed a strong working relationsh...

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Rhyl School, Kentish Town, London

Rhyl Primary School, built by Bailey in 1898 and listed in 1999, is a large, turreted and pedimented, standard ‘triple-decker’ building in Kentish Town (Saint, 1991, see Bibliography). The main school entrance is off-axis on the north, classroom – dominated, street-facing facade. In contrast, the more broken, hall-dominated southern elevation overlooks a generous, warm, colourful, leafy playground filled with a set of new play equipment.

Arranged around the major route from front to back, the entrance area has been assembled by knocking holes in the thick brickwork separating corridor from classroom, leaving the resulting space extensive but contorted...

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Proposals by both pupils and students

The tasks that the students introduced to the pupils were unlike those undertaken at the other schools studied. Exercises were mostly carried out together as a group, often in the hall on a large scale. The work produced was a collective expression of the pupils’ ideas rather than a series of individual pieces.

For the first session the students presented a scale model of the school and asked the pupils what

Proposals by both pupils and students

Figure 7.6

they would like to change. Later, both pupils and students overlaid sketches of their proposals on plans or photographs of the school for general discussion. Pupils were also asked to write down their proposals for improvement.

The following week pupils jointly produced a large map collaged from coloured paper and drew on it their route to school, method of transpo...

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Daubeney School, Hackney, London

In 1884, at the time of Daubeney’s construction, some education experts preferred schools to be of a village-school scale, trying to resist the pressure of expensive land driving such buildings as tall as Rhyl, Carlton or New End. As a result, the buildings here are lower and more spread out, but no less important than these others. The facades of Daubeney School were listed some time ago as they are a prime example of this smaller-scale type (Saint, 1991, see Bibliography).

Over the years the curtilage of the school has been extended to include elements located within a distinct rectangular urban plot, shared with houses, offices and warehouses and surrounded on all four sides by roads...

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‘Designing for Real’ case studies

Carlton School, Kentish Town, London

Carlton school was built in 1883 to accommodate 1800 pupils who were previously being taught in cellars and under railway arches. Originally there was an infants school, together with separate entrances to a junior school for girls and boys. By 1986, all had been combined into one primary school teaching 420 pupils.

The building consists of three tall halls stacked on top of one another facing south west. Classrooms make up the remainder of this and the whole of the opposing north east facades. Projecting slightly into the playground, this tower of three halls is flanked on either side by six half­height floors of stairs, toilets, offices and store rooms.

Access to the school was seen as confused by both staff and pupils...

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London Board schools

As we have seen, London board schools were built as a direct response to the government’s decision to provide primary education for all in the late-nineteenth century. They are usually four – or five-storey redbrick structures designed in the ‘Queen Anne’ style by E. R. Robson and his successor at the London Board, T. J. Bailey, and are far more elegant than the dreary, hermetic Gothic structures, which represented the church – sponsored education on offer previously (Girouard, 1984, see Bibliography). The new buildings provided extensive cross ventilation and daylight within an open secular environment, a truly modern universal experiment of its time...

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London Board schools as a fertile ground for studio design work

Undergraduate studio 6 at the School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of North London had been concerned for many years with the decline of public space and the way that this space was being used in a climate of diminishing resources. The studio had observed the shifting relationship between urban landscape, both natural and artificial, and its occupation, both ephemeral and enduring. This relationship appeared obscure and unpredictable.

In order to explore further, the studio began looking for a typical family of existing buildings each set within its own topology, with established social uses, and occupiers who were accessible to questioning and might even be persuaded to take part in the design process...

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Board school bubbles: action research and the new collaboration between architects and primary children

While some architecture departments at universities like Sheffield and North London have started to work more closely with schools, academic studio design work rarely addresses the needs and ambitions of the occupiers of their hypothetical schemes directly, as there are no real clients to interrogate and learn from.

This is despite a growing realization that the psychological reaction of individuals to their spatial surroundings has a primary influence on their perception and understanding of modern urban space. Whether a ‘situationist’ or a phenomenological approach is taken to increase contextual understanding and generate a design strategy, the problem is still one of assessing the reaction of an individual (whether designer or occupier) to their surroundings...

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Young designers working with professionals

At the same time the DfES launched their own ‘Classroom of the Future’ initiative in July 2000, some Local Education Authorities allowed schools to facilitate a greater collaboration between their pupils and their project architects.42 Pupils at Cottrell & Vermeulen’s prize-winning Westborough Primary School in Essex worked, for example, on a 3-d modelling project looking at alternative structural forms during the design process for their new school. Taking this approach a few stages further, St Jude’s Primary School in Glasgow undertook a ‘Designing for Real’ process to investigate possible improvements to the design of their school buildings...

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