The evolving classroom landscape

A classroom is not finished when it is finished, far from it; its life is just beginning. We would like to carry on charting the progress of Ballifield over the next few years to see how the landscapes inside and outside change. New agendas and ideas will inevitably mean changes to the plans as they are now; including the use and ideas for the external classroom and playground. Notions of health and safety might change too; now it is considered too dangerous to have an open pond. In other European countries the attitudes in playgrounds appear to be changing to place more emphasis on the children and parents taking responsibility for their behaviour and use of the public domain. However, most importantly children need to continue discovering ways of using their environment, changing it, understanding it and even re-imagining it.


1 David Miliband, the ministerial design champion writes in the foreword to a promotional book ‘Classrooms of the future – innovative designs for schools’, written by the DfES and published by The Stationery Office in London, 2002.

2 Simmons, I. G. (1993). Interpreting Nature: Cultural constructions of the environment. London: Routledge.

3 Anecdotal evidence from two neighbouring Sheffield primary schools taking diametrically opposed approaches to solve their conflicting problems.

4 Daily Telegraph, 28 June, 2003

Sarah discusses this issue in relation to the exemplar school initiative (the design of a whole school) that followed the classroom initiative.

5 Cathy Dee.

6 This was one of the 6-week ‘live projects’ car­ried out by all diploma students every year.

7 Anning, A. and Hill, A. (1998). ‘Designing in

elementary/primary classrooms’. IDATOR

Loughborough University of Technology.

8 Anning, A. (1993). ‘Technological capability in primary classrooms’. IDATOR Loughborough University of Technology.

9 The Guardian, 5 June 2001.

Schools Building and Design Unit – DfES 2002 ‘Schools for the Future – designs for learning communities’ Building Bulletin 95 The Stationery Office, London.

Prue Chiles combines practice with teaching and research. Prue Chiles Architects, established in 1999, carries out private commissions including the DfES funded ‘classroom of the future’. At the University of Sheffield, School of Architecture, Prue runs a diploma unit and directs the Bureau of Design Research set up in 2002 to work with both local communities and national groups on research – based design consultancy projects.