Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sometimes it's the simplest things Granddaughter Amelie's "under-the-table" house sewn from a sheet and some other material off-cuts by her Mum. It's even got window boxes with fabric flowers in them!

Play is so important isn't it? I'm looking very hard at the moment for fresh and further ways to make school buildings, new or refurbed, more playful too. Watch this space...

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Some things never change

I love the pace of the 21st century and the new opportunities it brings, but sometimes, just occasionally, of is nice to feel a community's timelessness.

Sailing today with friends in the annual Wivenhoe Regatta we raced up river to Wivenhoe to find, as we do each year, crowds, blindfold tender rowing, raffles for good causes, free beer (for sailors), Punch
and Judy, home made cakes, a barBQ in every balcony, smiles, friends - and this year even a Viking longboat...

Sun and wind were perfect, and so of course was the regatta. Again. You had to be there - and how many times have we heard that already this century? "Live, social and "community" are all back!!! But in some places they never went away.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Car factory

In Sweden to deliver a keynote to a soul searching conference exploring education futures in the context of a government that has lost faith in ICT - curious since Sweden was at the heart of pioneering and hugely effective work back in the era of multimedia.

The conference was set in a remarkable conversion of an old car factory - which had been reconfigured as an exciting and agile space, but keeping the functional features of manufacture. I liked the "catwalk" shown here, that encouraged presenters to walk away from the screen into the audience. i also liked thw scrapwood trees two of which cn be seen further down the walkway, at the end

The conference also enjoyed a remarkable debate between children and politicians...

Monday, 4 May 2009

Corridors of Dour

Sigh. I won't name the university - it is full of good and well meaning folk - but this endless, dreadful, soulless corridor exemplifies what is an absolute crisis of mismatch between the new 21st century schools, mostly corridor free, agile, full of community and collegiality, designed for a broad portfolio of learning styles, that are springing up all round the world - and the frankly dreadful Higher Education buildings that are appearing in parallel.

I was talking to an HE conference, by video link, just recently and mentioned that HE buildings are too often the analog product of a room allocation spreadsheet, so that the cells of the spreadsheet become the cells into which students are decanted, linked by ghastly productivity-corridors. All the emphasis is on moving people and knowing who is in (and thus should be paying for) each space - no sense of what might be effective for learning at all. I added that architects find designing these cells mind numbingly boring, so they usually add a flourish - typically a grand atrium. And often a sponsor kindly gave the money for all this, so a "statement" entrance, with sponsors name prominently displayed, is a final touch. The conference folk laughed a lot and for an unpextedly long time. I was puzzled but an email later explained: they had just had a presentation of the drawings of a proposed new building... with cells, corridors, atrium and grand entrance. Oh dear.

If UK HE is to survive in a global world, the design of our learning spaces will be a major contributor to that survival...

Friday, 1 May 2009

Ready Steady, slightly late

The company's office is a bit late onto the race course this year but Cracker goes back into the water today (hurrah!) after spraying with her new Teflon® antifouling - and very fab she looks too, as you can see.

But tall. Of course one problem with having 9 foot of keel plus a very-large-lump-of-lead hanging underneath and a berth on the really-jolly-shallow UK's East Coast is that you spend a lot of time avoiding the jolly- shallow bits!

But it's worth it though eh?, I mean LOOK at her... sigh.