K – 12 school design
Getting the design right
If a school environment is well-designed, with the educational, social and emotional needs of its students properly considered, it has a head start in becoming an outstanding place of learning. The spaces created on campus will have a profound impact on effective teaching and enjoyable learning – getting this right contributes so much to the positive and supportive atmosphere that visitors will sense as soon as they step through the school gate.
Consilium consultants have been involved with a number of high profile projects involving new school design and build briefs, notably the Alice Smith School at Jalan Bellamy and Equine Park (Andy & Jan Homden), the British International School, Jakarta (Andy & Jan Homden), Wellington College International at Tianjin (Paul Cabrelli) and the Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in Birmingham, UK (Elly Tobin). We understand the need for making an architectural statement, but it is so important to make the best educational and social use of the often limited space that is available: as matter of principle, educational requirements come first and must drive architectural solutions.
Seeing the educational potential in an existing building or campus takes an experienced eye and a series of great new spaces can often be created with relatively minor changes to the fabric of existing buildings: one of our guiding principles with refurbishment projects is to realise maximum potential with minimum intervention. It is all too easy to spend large sums of money on alterations that might be unnecessary. As with new build projects, we wish to create the most effective spaces for good learning and promote the development of positive relationships between the members of the school’s community.
It is important to pay particular attention to the relationship between indoor and outdoor space, wanting to take advantage of every opportunity on site to create a purposeful, creative and supportive atmosphere. Recreational, informal and transitional areas need as much attentions as classrooms and are often neglected, even though students will spend a great deal of time in them – and what happens in these spaces has a profound impact not only on patterns of behaviour but also what happens in the classroom
Once we are clear about the scope of the project, and understand the educational objectives of the new school’s sponsors, we will prepare a brief for the architects and the engineers on the project design team, engaging with them to produce the best architectural outcome that can be afforded. The architectural solutions will then be informed by educational best practice as well as more general design and engineering principles.
Downloadable PDF design articles from Consilium Education
Consilium Education consultants Elly Tobin, Jan Homden and Andy Homden have specialised in a number of different areas of school design when involved with new school and refurbishment projects. Click on each image for their more detailed thoughts in four easy to download articles about secondary school design (Elly Tobin), playground design (Jan Homden) and Landscaping, Parts 1 & 2 (Andy Homden)