Sunday, 25 October 2009
So there's a winter project - I'd better make it a case.
When we started exploring Nano Nagel's convent in Cork (the Presentation Sisters were exploring making it into a community learning resource - a great project), I couldn't resist winding and starting the old grandfather clock on the landing. It ws a mesmeric moment, as though the whole building's heart had been restarted. Clockwork clocks can do that, not everything digital is perfect!
Friday, 23 October 2009
The evening that I arrived I visited Hans-Jørn Riis' lovely house and was captivated by his complex, brick, traditional fire and stove right at the centre of his family home (not the least because of the tasty pizza which came out of the oven bit!). It has a complex flue which powers the oven too, and gives the home a warm heart. Hans-Jørn mentioned that their new primary school Lansgøskolen also had an oven of this traditional brick design, and here it is - it gives the school community a warm heart, but also serves as a focal point - you can imagine on a cold morning the youngsters gravitating to the centre, and to the embracing warmth.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
so many of the 21st century schools that I have seen leaping forwards in ambition and performance have a certain "wow factor" when you walk in - it is part of the self esteem growth that you always see in the students. A big part of that "wow factor" comes from an absence of what the US calls "cells and bells" - the old boxes and corridoors of the factory school era.
However, not only are the tiny boxes missing (Leigh Technology Academy teaches a lot of classes in groups of 60 in big spaces, but with three or sometimes four adults present) but one design feature that stands out is the complete lack of right angles! It seems like a small thing in design terms but the impression it gives is of a series of interlinking agile spaces that are a very long way from boxes.
And watching the teaching and learning that results, reading the research too, it clearly works.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
But wandering through Brightlingsea at the start of Autumn I walked past pal Gary Constable's boatyard and reflected on the way that boatyards re-configure themselves seasonally. At this time space is at a premium as boats start to appear for winter refits and work, prior to formally laying up - by Spring it is all pre-season preparation and of course summer is space and time. Not only do each of these functions require a different space layout - for which the yard needs genuine agility, but each offers a different social environment too - folk this week were positively relishing the social chit chat of Autumn in the shed. No doubt many other physical spaces have traditionally been comfortably agile - it makes you wonder even more why we seem to have locked so many schools down into the constancy of cells and bells...
..and then seem surprised by the boredom and disengagement that results.