John Lyall Architects attended a thought provoking conference last week which looked at all aspects of refurbishment in education buildings – from heritage issues to sustainability, FF&E and ‘Free Schools’.
Elm Park School, Lambeth
The conference took place at Elm Park School in South London – itself extensively refurbished under wave 1 of the BSF programme by the conference organisers – Apollo Education.
Sir David Bell, chairman of the Transformation Trust opened the conference : “Giving kids confidence that they can achieve is crucial, and good education environments really help this “
Malcolm Woods from English Heritage then talked about working with historic buildings: ”in refurbishment sensitivity to historic buildings important, but quality of education is the priority“
“Ideally listed buildings should be always have the same use that they were originally built for”
Malcolm Woods from English Heritage
“The UK has only 5000 listed buildings – which is not many – so they need care; understanding the building is critical” There are also clearly many buildings which are not listed but which are really important to preserve.
Marcel Hendricks, Apollo Education: “transformation now a dirty word, but important- don’t just refurbish a poor performing space with a lick of paint“
David Hurrocks – senior contracts manager at Apollo – talked about the practicality of building/refurbishment/phasing while school open
David Hurrocks - Apollo Education
There was then a really energetic talk by Marcus Orlovsky, of consultants Bryanston Square… he began by showing a photograph of a pretty uninspiring teaching space “if that is your idea of refurb, go boil your own head!” and then going on to say:
“ too often the goal of ‘improving what’s there’ prevents the creation of truly special learning environments “
He asked are we sleepwalking in our current provision for schools? With various statistics he showed how the world is changing radically, and questioned whether the careers that many UK pupils are heading towards may not actually exist in the UK in 25 years…
He talked about how schools should tackle Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment early: “FF&E doesn’t have to be costly if it is tackled with imagination” – running through ways you can engage pupils without spending loads of money on construction work - FF&E can be bespoke & innovative…
Aaron Taylor talked us through Apollo Education’s field trip to Scandinavia, and showed several slides showing the progressive design of the Danish and Swedish schools. This was particularly interesting given the current move towards ‘free schools’ and the possibility of converting existing non-school buildings for use as schools. Examples included the new Orestad-Gymnasium school in Copenhagen.
There was a talk on sustainability in schools from Martin Cook of the BRE, and Steve Wisby of mechanical engineers Hoare Lee, followed by a discussion of community involvement and social responsibility.
The day ended with a tour of the school – itself an award winning example of school refurbishment – with construction work by Apollo Education. A PDF case study of the building can be found here.
This was a great conference, and it was particularly interesting to discuss some of the issues which we face in our school design work; there were many parallels with Northbury School which was designed as part of our schools-specific consortium Architects4Education
Northbury School, designed by Architects4Education
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