New Ideas for London's Schools

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Cowley St Lawrence Primary School © What Architecture

There was a lot of talk about pushing playspace onto underutilised school roofscapes, a fair bit about sharing and co-locating other uses and services, and a smattering about context – even the crucial need to provide good teaching above good buildings.

This was the NLA’s latest Pecha Kucha on new ideas in school buildings, with nine speakers keeping adroitly to their few allotted minutes at Squire and Partners’ 06 St Chad’s Place bar in King’s Cross last night.

With the subtext of a marked underprovision in London school places and the new administration’s drive towards modular solutions, talks ranged from a look at new school provision in Croydon and Southwark to providing teaching spaces beneath residential at King’s Cross; from models of clustering facilities to reinterpreting briefs, even to using Lego in buildings or creating undulating bike tracks on the roof of a school in China.

John Leonard of Nicholas Hare Architects made an appeal that the innovations of the last 10 years must not be forgotten. But perhaps one of the most impassioned pleas came from PTEa’s Andrew Beharrell, who called for flexibility, rather than the usual schools architect crime of producing only ‘highly bespoke buildings which can only be used for one thing in the future’, and which therefore might not be adaptable to future needs. Top marks. 

David Taylor, New London Quarterly

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