Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What counts as a 'good' learning space?

As reported in the newspapers yesterday, despite £35bn spent by the government on revamping educational buildings across the UK, "a new generation of mediocre schools" is in danger of being produced. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has reported that the design quality of many of these new learning spaces is not satisfactory.

What does this mean about spaces for learning at university and college level? Well, first, we need to look hard at what criteria CABE are developing for judging what exactly is a good learning space for secondary school children. For example, they say:

The best designs are getting it right, with plenty of natural light and ventilation; lively and stimulating spaces for learning; generous, atriums and pleasant spaces for pupils to dine and relax; toilets designed to deter bullying; and easy routes to move quickly around the school.

Interestingly, I feel that debates in higher education tend to conceptualise space in different ways to this; and that these differences would be worth unravelling a bit...

Second, we need to consider why these newly built learning spaces are been deemed non-satisfactory. Some would say it is the PFI procurement process; others will blame the architects and others the lack of adequate briefing or understanding by schools themselves. So - what can we learn - how can we not only imagine but also sucessfully realise better learning spaces in and beyond university campuses?

See CABE report "Threshold needed to halt poor school design">
Image: Michael Tippett Special Education Needs school, the first BSF school in London, 2008. Designed by Marks Barfield Architects

No comments:

Post a Comment