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

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

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Adrian Leaman runs Building Use Studies and leads the educational and dissemination activities of the Usable Buildings Trust, a UK educational charity with the aim of promoting information about buildings in use from technical and human perspectives. He has had a long interest in built space and its organisation and is keen that future design can benefit from lessons learned in existing buildings. Hence our discussion here focuses on post-occupancy evaluation (PoE) and the feedback loops that can lead to better school buildings.


With this site, Emma and I are trying to understand how school architecture and space are lived. With your experience of Post-Occupancy Evaluation (PoE), what would you say make schools special, space-wise? Continue reading “Post-Occupancy Evaluation and Schools – an interview with Adrian Leaman”

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:

  1. Dictate what you do
  2. Choreograph what you do
  3. Shape what you do
  4. Influence what you do
  5. Suggest what you do
  6. Do nothing, I decide what I do
  7. None of the above, something else.

Continue reading “Do Buildings: a) dictate b) choreograph… …e) suggest what you do…”

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.

The idea of architecture as a social science might seem odd but there’s not much that more powerfully places, joins, separates and patterns people, their groups and relations than the built spaces we live, work and learn in. That, in brief, is the social side of things, explored below in more detail. And as for science (rather than as a practice or art which architecture can also be), well, an architectural design is a type of Continue reading “Architecture as a Social Science?”

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 hours a day Continue reading “AR’s School Awards: will the interiors count? That’s where students spend their 13,585 school hours…”

The phantom cloakroom

When I was considering whether to include my own childhood school as one of a series of research visits to primary schools, I wondered how that might affect the research.  It wasn’t until after I’d made the visit that I remembered Katie Jones & Jon Anderson’s excellent (2009) paper about the methodologies of different research spaces in schools and the fact that Jones was visiting her own (secondary) school for her research project.  However, unlike Jones, a young researcher, Continue reading “The phantom cloakroom”

“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.

In a poem by Craig Raine, A Martian Sends a Postcard Home, the alien narrator describes the strange goings-on of humans to friends and family back on Mars. The unlikely language used to describe this foreign world is an effective way to make the world strange again, a tool to look at things differently. Mist, for example, “is when the sky is tired of flight / and rests its soft machine on ground” and a car “is a room with the lock inside – / a key is turned to free the world // for movement”.

Which made me think – what if a Martian did a Google Image search for the word “architecture”? Continue reading ““Zigzag, white, no life”: a Martian’s View of Architecture”