Measuring and Evaluating as Rhetorical Management

Are evaluation and measuring a form of rhetorics? A political art of obscuring the political? What’s Post-Occupancy Evaluation got to do with it?

Advertisements

I’m struggling to write a chapter about the measurement and evaluation of school buildings in use, what’s called “Post-Occupancy Evaluation”. Writing this is an attempt to clarify some thoughts about how the selection and measurement of values in a process of evaluating buildings is necessarily political and involves the communication and projection of particular values (rather than a mere recording of them). I argue that evaluation, what is valued and their promulgation can be thought of as a form of rhetorics. Continue reading “Measuring and Evaluating as Rhetorical Management”

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.

In the Middle Ages, colleges like those at Oxford looked like monasteries because the Establishment was theocratic; today [1969], our high schools look like factories and regiment students like the labor force because the Establishment is commercial and industrial.” (James S. Ackerman)

Ackerman is generalising and knows it. He wants to skip past instances of particular schools in particular places and think about why they tend to look as they do: it’s a question that’s often ignored.

But ignoring why facilitates an automaticity about school design that works to obscure who they are designed for and what purposes. [1] Schools, Ackerman says, are not built for students but for Continue reading “What High Schools Look Like and Why”

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?

Earlier this week, the OECD published its findings on student well-being [PDF, 6MB]. When 15-year-olds across the world sat the 2015 PISA reading, writing and science tests, they also responded to a questionnaire that sought to explore their satisfaction with life in general, and, in more specific terms, their self-reported social, cognitive, psychological and physical well-being (as defined by the OECD). [1]

Michael Gove, when Secretary of State for Education, would use PISA results (but only some) as a justification for continued reform. For example: Continue reading “What Are We Building Schools For Again?”

Transitions: Inhabiting Innovative Learning Environments

Transitions: Inhabiting Innovative Learning Environments – Graduate research symposia.

While the provision of innovative learning environments in many countries around the world is an exciting and overdue development, they are also presenting new challenges for teachers.
Continue reading “Transitions: Inhabiting Innovative Learning Environments”

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.

Jill Blackmore is Professor of Education and former Director of the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.

She has published widely in education and sociology with a longstanding interest in issues of equity, feminism, teachers’ work and classroom practice. Recently she has led teams studying school learning environments leading to an extremely useful literature review, Research into the connection between built learning spaces and student outcomes (PDF, 3MB) as well as the Innovative Learning Environments Research Study (PDF, 1MB) (See also learningspacesportal.edu.au). Jill also advises the OECD on their Learning Environments Evaluation Programme.

This interview crosses a lot of ground – from her recent work exploring teachers’ use of space to her own teaching Continue reading “An Interview with Jill Blackmore on space, learning, feminism and the politics of education”

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. Continue reading “An Ideal School-Building Programme”

The spaces have to really want to change: an interview with architect Ruth Taylor

Ruth Taylor was born in London, England and attended schools in Surrey and Buckinghamshire. Prior to studying Architecture at University of Westminster she studied English Literature and Language at University of Liverpool followed by four years working for an investment bank. Before joining SCABAL, as a Senior architect in 2008, she worked with Cottrell & Vermuelen Architecture, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Dinwiddie MacLaren Architects gaining particular experience of Education projects as well as working on community, arts, conservation and residential buildings. Continue reading “The spaces have to really want to change: an interview with architect Ruth Taylor”

Architecture and Education seminar: two-footed stories of exploration. May 11th 2016, University of Cambridge

ReadingNook2

Over the past three years, an innovative collaborative research partnership, funded by the AHRC has been established between the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and SCABAL architecture studio, London.

The partnership is entitled ‘Creative Discipline: exploring the value of design in building high quality schools supporting excellence in teaching and learning.’

Three doctoral researchers, Emma Dyer, Karolina Szynalska and Tom Bellfield, are currently conducting PhD studies, jointly supervised by Dr Cathy Burke at the Faculty of Education and Dominic Cullinan at SCABAL. Their research questions and subsequent studies have been generated through this bipedular partnership, with one foot in academia and the other foot in practice.

This seminar will share some current research findings, projections Continue reading “Architecture and Education seminar: two-footed stories of exploration. May 11th 2016, University of Cambridge”

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

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

In early February 2016, the Italian government’s Ministry of Education, Universities and Research published some of the details of a ‘Competition of ideas for the realisation of innovative schools’ [pdf, 2.5MB]. It’s open to any professionally recognised architect or engineer in the EU.

I’ve translated Article 2 of the decree law (below) that sets up the competition because it’s pretty interesting for a number of reasons: Continue reading “Italy’s ‘Competition of Ideas’ for a New School-Building Programme”

Rising to the challenge: an interview with Helen Taylor, architect

Helen Taylor is Practice Director at Scott Brownrigg, responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of programmes to enhance technical competence and expertise across the whole company. As well as specialising in education design, Helen is committed to sustainability, diversity and inclusive design. She is well-recognised through her collaboration with industry bodies and is a founder member and co-chair of Architects for Change, the RIBA’s Equality & Diversity Forum; Chair of the RIBA Inclusive Design Committee; and Convenor of the RIBA Schools Client Forum; Co-chair of the Construction Industry Council Green Construction Panel; a mentor for the Construction Industry Council Fluid Mentoring Programme.

Helen Taylor

Tell me about your own early experiences of school.

My birthday’s in July and I don’t know if it’s because we’d moved or because I was young in the year, but I remember arriving at school Continue reading “Rising to the challenge: an interview with Helen Taylor, architect”

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 four years later in the Paris of 1815, Charles de Lasteyrie writes this Continue reading “When School Architecture Meant System Architecture”

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.

Ola Uduku is Reader in Architecture and Dean International for Africa at Edinburgh University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). Her research specialisms are the history of educational architecture in Africa and contemporary issues related to social infrastructure provision for minority communities in cities in the ‘West’ and ‘South’. She is also involved in research into environmental analysis, and measurement tools and apps for educational and third sector uses. Continue reading “Schools and School Design in Africa: An Interview with Ola Uduku”

Futures for English School Design

The following is a list of things we learned during the Education Estates conference, held in Manchester on 10-11th November 2015. Continue reading “Futures for English School Design”

Why are people so fixated on area in schools and not on cost?

20150920_102651

I returned home from the Education Estates* conference in Manchester earlier this week with one question lodged firmly in my head: why are people so fixated on area in schools and not on cost?

The question was asked at the very end of the conference in the final session Continue reading “Why are people so fixated on area in schools and not on cost?”

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 Continue reading “Does a School Building need to look like a School?”

A less modern but more hi-tech primary: more from the DfE’s PSBP

Following yesterday’s cheaper, faster … and better?  post, I must apologise for a lack of thoroughness in my research of the school building and maintenance section of the Gov.UK website.  At the time of writing I had only read one of the DfE’s latest press releases, dated 21st September 2015, about their Priority School’s Building Programme’s new and clearly very modern schools. Continue reading “A less modern but more hi-tech primary: more from the DfE’s PSBP”

PBSP school buildings in the UK: cheaper, faster… better?

A Victorian-era community primary has been rebuilt as a modern replacement primary academy in the West Midlands of England and the DfE puts out a press release to celebrate its opening.

As a promotional puff for a new school, some of the language used initially strikes me as rather odd. Continue reading “PBSP school buildings in the UK: cheaper, faster… better?”

A school on the edge of a small town

Treetops Primary is to be sited on the edge of a small town in the South of England on a large site with plenty of room for a large school playing field.  The school will be two-form entry (420 pupils) with a 56 place fte.nursery, which may be separate or linked to the school.

This is the first paragraph of the brief I wrote for a design exercise for SCABAL Open Studios on June 4th 2015 and discussed in my two previous posts, Architecture, design and embarrassment and What is a class?

In the brief I also requested Continue reading “A school on the edge of a small town”

Architecture, design and embarrassment

As a student of architecture and education you have all the fun and none of the responsibilities of the professional architect/educator.  In June I was given the opportunity by SCABAL to write a brief for their architectural studio’s open day to design a primary school in a day.

Once I’d written the brief, Continue reading “Architecture, design and embarrassment”

Interview with Dominic Cullinan, SCABAL

Dominic Cullinan is an architect and founding partner of SCABAL (Studio Cullinan & Buck Architects Ltd.) based in Hatton Garden.  Dominic met Jon Buck at Ian Richie architects in 1989 and they have worked together ever since, forming a partnership as Cullinan & Buck Architects in 1996.

Dominic with Felix Xylander-Swannell at SCABAL designing A School in a Day
Dominic with Felix Xylander-Swannell at SCABAL designing A School in a Day

Tell me about your first school?

My primary school in Ashford in Kent Continue reading “Interview with Dominic Cullinan, SCABAL”