Suvani Dave has attended independent primary and secondary schools in Ashford, Windsor and Hounslow. She is currently a student in the sixth form at Orleans Park secondary school in Twickenham, where she is taking ‘A’ levels in art, maths and psychology. She is considering studying architecture at university in the USA or the UK. Suvani is a talented artist, whose work has already attracted attention from private collectors.
What do you remember about your first school?
Despite the fact that I was only five when I first saw my old school, I could clearly tell that the building had some sort of story to it. I felt quite foreign to this new environment and small because it literally looked like a castle! The building was predominantly made out of very old bricks that made it feel like it had a lot of history to it. Entering the school gave a very chilling atmosphere and I remember the walls having dull colours, the school halls looked never ending and even the heaters looked like something that was made a long time ago!
My favourite place in the school was the library. It was the only place that felt relaxing and normal. The only place that I didn’t like was the assembly hall, I remember that it was always cold, dull and unsettling.
Did you learn to read in school?
Yes, I learned to read in our classroom with my teacher and it was the only place that felt like home. The classroom itself had this happy environment as there were a lot of vibrant colours, children’s drawings, windows where sunlight reflects all those colours and most of all it was warm and cosy.
What would you change about your primary school?
It was both a primary and secondary school, so it would be it would be a little difficult to change something for the primary school students only. However, if it was only a primary school, I would make the overall building smaller (not too small as that would make it claustrophobic) as larger buildings tend to make it a bit more intimidating to smaller children. Another thing that I would change would be the wall colours, I’m not talking about bright pink, purple or even yellow but instead warmer colours like the creams and the browns: it just makes a room more welcoming!
When you attended (a different) secondary school, were there any places that you had strong feelings about?
My secondary school was the complete opposite to my primary school, I honestly didn’t like the look of it as the overall building was too small and had no playground, which didn’t really sit well as most student are now older and needed a little more freedom within the building.
What do you think schools will be like in fifty years’ time?
In fifty years’ time I truly believe that schools would look much more vibrant and less intimidating to students. I also believe that schools would incorporate more technology when learning such as using iPads or Kindles instead of books and maybe using solar panels for the electricity within the school.
If you were to design a school now, what would you do differently from your own school?
I would design my own school to be very different in comparison to other schools. Firstly, I would make the whole building out of glass: in today’s world you see more brick buildings than glass, glass gives a much more sleek and modern look. If the client wanted privacy then I would use slightly tinted glass. Another feature that I would incorporate when designing this building is using ecological materials that this world can offer. I know that the environment is a pressing issue, examples of materials that can help reduce this issue are solar panels for the electricity, materials that can recycle water within the building and planting a lot of trees. By creating a building that is environmentally friendly, it can teach students that the environment is an issue and that everyone needs to have some sort of input to help save the planet, even if it is small.
Do you think that school pupils should be asked to participate in the design of their own school or do the architects know best?
In terms of the overall look of the school and features that students may want I think students should incorporate their ideas into the design, however I do believe that the architects should have an overall say about what to design as they also have to think about the safety of the students and some features or materials may not be the safest option to use.
If you could say one thing to the architects of your new sixth form block about their design – what would it be?
One thing that I would say is that their design makes our Sixth Form look modern and sophisticated in comparison to others that I have seen.