Author Archives: Adam Wood

What High Schools Look Like and Why

After 1968, James Ackerman, Giancarlo De Carlo and others questioned school design: why? why like this? This post revisits their questions.

What Are We Building Schools For Again?

For OECD and UNICEF, the well-being of UK young people is not good. Is it time to rethink the aim of school architecture?

On Forgetting: Some Similarities between Architecture and Social Media

Architecture and social media share a way of being understood as neutral things – their social production being obscured.

An Interview with Jill Blackmore on space, learning, feminism and the politics of education

Professor Jill Blackmore discusses learning spaces, teachers’ work, feminism and the complexity of education.

Pearson, IBM Watson and cognitive enhancement technologies in education

Originally posted on code acts in education:
Ben Williamson Image: Atomic Taco The world’s largest edu-business, Pearson, partnered with one of the world’s largest computing companies, IBM, at the end of October 2016 to develop new approaches to education in the ‘cognitive era.’ Their partnership was anticipated earlier in the year when both organizations produced…

Scotland Street School Museum, Glasgow

A List of Museums of School, School Life and Education

A list – to be updated – of school museums (that is, museums of school life or buildings) in Europe and a few beyond.

The Museum of School Life, Nerokourou, Crete

The Museum of School Life, Nerokourou, Crete

The old village primary school (1930-2000) in Nerokourou (Crete) is now the Museum of School Life (Μουσείο Σχολικής Ζωής) and striking for its reminders of the physicality of education and material technologies of teaching and learning.

Flexibility and Time

Flexibility, Time and Learning Spaces

If teachers don’t have time to make flexibility happen, a learning environment isn’t flexible. This post proposes a breakdown into 4 types of flexibility based on the temporal (& other) resources users need.

An image from Ngram Viewer showing relative trends in the words 'education' and 'learning' between 1800 and 2008

The Changing Vocabulary of Education and its Spaces

A post exploring changes in the words used to talk about education e.g. the shift from “classroom” to “learning space”.

An Ideal School-Building Programme

Thinking about some of the differences between school-building programmes in Australia, England and Italy got me wondering – what would you want in an ideal school-building programme? Here’s a personal wish-list though I’d welcome suggestions. It’s unfinished and I’ll probably return to it – I think there’s much more to be said, especially about how […]

Shopping for Schools 2 – Schools Advertising

Catch a bus or a train and you’re now likely to see advertisements for state-funded schools. That’s odd.

Detail of Herman Hertzberger's 2010 Scuola Petrocelli, La Romanina, Rome.

Italy’s ‘Competition of Ideas’ for a New School-Building Programme

Italy’s “Competition of Ideas” for Innovative Schools could stimulate architectural & educational debate.

Image of Adrian Leaman

Post-Occupancy Evaluation and Schools – an interview with Adrian Leaman

Adrian Leaman on what makes school buildings special, PoE and managing complexity.

When School Architecture Meant System Architecture

In 1811, Joseph Lancaster publishes his Hints and Directions for Building, Fitting Up, and Arranging School Rooms, one of the key triggers for the idea of a modern school building and a legacy-leaving document that affects how we think of schools today and perhaps even the fact that we can think of schools today. Just […]

Do Buildings: a) dictate b) choreograph… …e) suggest what you do…

You’re in a building. (And if you’re not, just pretend your app/software or whatever is a building anyway, it kind of is.) Does this building you’re in: Dictate what you do Choreograph what you do Shape what you do Influence what you do Suggest what you do Do nothing, I decide what I do None […]

Image of Ola Uduku

Schools and School Design in Africa: An Interview with Ola Uduku

Ola Uduku (Edinburgh University) speaks about the historical influence of Western pedagogies and architectural traditions and their local adaptation in school design.

Does a School Building need to look like a School?

…is a question posed by the architect of the school where I’m doing my research. It came up in an interview over a year ago and has stuck with me ever since. Neither of us answered his question – the recording of the interview has us both umming and urring for the next 15 seconds. […]

Vitruvian triad Utilitas Socialitas Firmitas Venustas - Architecture as a social science too...

Architecture as a Social Science?

Some ideas for seeing architecture as – amongst other things – a social science. Also a bit on why the social sciences seem to ignore architecture.

Shopping for Schools – Should Architects Help?

This worries me: As schools behave more like private businesses they will be in competition with one another to attract the best teachers and students. Architects can draw on their experience in the private sector to help them achieve this. It worries me because I think some of it (in England) is probably true. It […]

Measuring the Impact of School Design – Differently

To move beyond traditional measures of research impact, this post on the LSE Impact blog proposes a range of alternative indicators. So alongside H-Index, number of citations etc there are many more provocative and interesting suggestions eg: angry letters from powerful people; town hall meetings; place of publication. They’re problematic for sure, but each reveals […]

Summer Reading – “Seeing Like a State” and the survival of high modernism in school planning

For a book that says almost nothing about Education – no classrooms, no students or teachers, no school architecture – James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State is one of the best I’ve read on school design, being in schools and education. He takes a phrase, “high modernism”, and uses it as a way to […]

AR’s School Awards: will the interiors count? That’s where students spend their 13,585 school hours…

As the Architectural Review’s School Awards close, let’s hope the judges give due emphasis to the design of the interiors since this is where students and teachers spend most of their time. And Architecture as I’ve argued before already pays too much attention to exteriors. But insides count! Let’s say students are inside for 5.5 […]

Can Economics explain why we don’t know what schools users think of their schools?

Recently I’ve been learning about Post-Occupancy Evaluation, mostly from the tons of great resources at the Usable Buildings Trust. It’s got me thinking why there’s nothing in place for systematically asking the young people and adults who spend lots of time in school buildings what they think of those school buildings. And then, dream of […]

Image of Rightmove's advert for its new School Checker

Are you in the right home, near the right school? Are you sure?

A video popped up on Facebook: Almost 2 years into a PhD studying a school and I’m less and less sure about where school starts and where it stops. School works its way into housing markets and into worries about whether we are indeed living in the right home, in the right place, whether that […]

Interview with Suzi Hall, urban ethnographer and architect

Suzanne (Suzi) Hall is an ethnographer at the LSE, London, where she explores people’s lives in urban spaces. Prior to that she worked as an architect in South Africa. Her 2012 book City, Street and Citizen: the Measure of the Ordinary, published by Routledge, draws on her ethnography of the Walworth Road, a bustling, dynamic […]

Making Spaces, Forgetting Politics

Walls* are breaks (Vesely, 2013). They break into established categories of meaning and space and make new ones. They do that publicly too, so we could also say that walls have a communicative function to orient attention and shout about what it is they’re doing. And a school’s walls are especially powerful since they break […]

Architecture Definition by

“Zigzag, white, no life”: a Martian’s View of Architecture

Our interactions with Google search results appear to contribute to the fetishization of Architecture as big white ribbed structures. This post explores why.

Open Space Good, Closed Space Bad? Problems with Architecture and Language

In which Marie, a 12-year-old student, explains how large, open-plan spaces feel claustrophobic.

What are schools for? An interview with Gert Biesta on the learnification of school buildings and education.

Gert Biesta on school architecture and democracy, and learnification – a reductive reappraisal of education as learning.