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FEATURE FOCUS: MAINTENANCE & DESIGN West Rise School


space; the frosted glass screen at Cavendish Through School flood the social space with light while maintaining privacy; the internal windows at Richmond prevent the pupils from feeling buried in the centre of a large building; and the colourful canopy ‘roof eyes’ delight the infants playing underneath at West Rise School.


Colour and form In tandem with daylighting, we believe that colour and form can provide exceptional value in brightening a school building if delivered with care and sensitivity. We often use strong external colours on our


circulation can have a far greater positive effect than simply providing access from one classroom to another. We plan the routes carefully so that they are direct and obvious. We size each part of the circulation to ensure that every metre is the right width to permit easy passage when needed, but space for conversation and contemplation when appropriate. We also furnish the circulation spaces to allow and encourage a multitude of minor activities. And finally, we design the edges of the circulation spaces to be perforate, so promoting a blurred boundary between the artery and the space beyond. In this way we squeeze the maximum use out of every space and lower the threshold between learning and the circulation spaces.


Flexibility and floorspace management Typically, a school’s internal spaces are not a direct match for their required uses. This may be because the rooms were never the right size, or much more frequently, the required uses have changed with each iteration of education policy and change in teaching group size. You can be sure that methodologies and room capacities will continue to change while your school’s rooms will remain resolutely the same. ECE provides, as a fundamental design starting


point, a study of room sizes and how these can be managed to meet a school’s requirements. As a consequence of the exercise, we would then look at the needs for making some key space adaptable and we are able to meet differing needs at different times. We manage school


spaces to range from adaptable through flexible to nimble, this last definition referring to rooms where the walls can be rearranged by teaching staff mid-lesson, as shown by our award-winning project at Beacon College in Crowborough.


Light The geometry of architecture does not work without light. When light reacts to the geometry of a building everyone is better off – there is delight, there is happiness and the processes of the building work with greater fluency. This is of course just as applicable to a school


building – and we work tirelessly in our school design to ensure that light, particularly daylight, is allowed to pervade the spaces in a managed but noticeable fashion. Detailed lighting studies are undertaken to


predict and manage the amount of daylight falling into the depths of a room and from this we ensure very good daylight awareness while limiting dependence on artificial light sources. In many instances we introduce daylight into the centre of a building - say at the very rear of a classroom, or into a central atrium – to provide the uplifting effect of daylight where it is needed most. All the images illustrating this article feature the


introduction of daylight into schools of very different types – a large rooflight over the atrium of Richmond upon Thames School drenches the multiuse space with light; the windows of the flexible teaching space at Beacon Academy in Crowborough play a major contribution to the


Cavendish Primary School


Conclusion As you will have noted, my five central elements of good school design do not touch on room sizes, the impact of IT, sustainability, health and safety, access requirements and the like – all of which are certainly critical to the success of your school. I have dwelled instead on aspects of design that are a little harder to grasp and certainly harder to implement successfully within the constraints we have experienced as education sector designers. However, I believe if you can introduce some, or all, of these principles you will have for yourself a school which is one step ahead of everyone else, being a joy to use for many years to come.


Richmond School


schools to provide a sense of identity to the users and to also subtly differentiate different functions within the school. In the example of West Rise School, we designed the external canopies, directly under which the children play, to have flower-like circular glazed openings supported on green ‘stalks’ all to provide the infants with a sense of adventuring outside under a botanical canopy – a simple solution with much greater impact than its cost.


Bedford School


June 2019


www.education-today.co.uk 27


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