DESIGN | School Building

Posted on 06/02/2011


The Building the Education Revolution program attracted a significant amount of commentary and criticism in the post financial crisis environment. Despite any issues and problems associated with value for money on these buildings projects, there’s been barely a peep about it since that aggressive and ugly politicking. It was disturbing to hear this discussion fail to consider the education context of these projects – issues of learning, environment and users nary rated a mention. When the program was announced, I was working in a private company interested in these projects. Various built environment and construction companies vied for these contracts at a time when business was slow. My colleagues and I we were interested in embedding community wellbeing – ideas about healthy schools, quality consultation/engagement and designing positive learning environments – while also mindful of the bottom line. I’ve been keep tabs on the building projects in my local schools, keen to see what sort of design or other innovation might have been realised through them in an education context. Mostly what I have seen are fairly ordinary buildings – brick and tin sheds – slightly better than sheds. In one nearby school, where a market is held every Sunday morning, the building pictured below has been taking shape. Initially I just saw a Bessa Block shed erected, looking very much like a lost opportunity. More recently detailing has been added to give the building slightly more interest. Is it a good design outcome? Does it promote wellbeing in the school community? Should we have expected better or better for our children and teachers?

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