SKILLED, COORDINATED TEAMS PRODUCE GOOD SCHOOLS Over past decades the means of education building delivery has been the subject of regular and dramatic change. Throughout that time AD Education Architects has been committed to producing good school buildings and has developed the requisite skills and procedures through close and effective team work. The first step should be to produce a high quality Brief (Click on image to right 'The Brief'). This document will represent the Vision and philosophies of the Client group. Fundamentally, it will capture the requirements for educational delivery at the point when the building will be completed, and will also set down requirements for inbuilt flexibility, to cope with philosophical changes which will take place for many years into the future. The Architect will not start the design drawing stages until the Quantity Surveyor has produced an elemental cost plan related to the financial Budget, setting out the constructional elements of the building which provide best “value for money”. The Structural Engineer and Mechanical and Electrical Engineer will also be involved in the initial cost planning process. The early involvement of the BREEAM assessor is necessary to ensure Sustainability is truly embedded.
Because no two communities are the same, standardised designs cannot respond well to the brief. However, the process of design delivery using teamwork can be set down from the completion of the brief, through to occupancy evaluation, feeding the lessons learned into the next design (Click on image to right 'Skillbuilding Circle'. We can then ensure the school building process is driven by educational vision and philosophies.
We may also consider how to improve our existing school stock at a comparative level of affordability to that which is presently mooted for the conversion of “other building types”, especially in areas where there is spare capacity in schools In order to deliver this result, an extremely thorough and focussed series of Option Appraisal studies are necessary to get the maximum benefit from the re-use of the best of the building stock and the judicious introduction of an element of new build to give the whole a degree of legibility and continuity. If full funding is not immediately available, a Master Plan may be produced which allows for the whole to eventually be delivered in planned phases. The Education projects illustrated in the following pages demonstrate the development of educational philosophies over three decades, starting with cross-curricular comprehensive open plan solutions, through to recent designs showing Schools which offer near to unlimited flexibility in their planning, and embedded sustainability. However, we believe that the means and structure of the delivery is the most important part of the overall holistic design process, and the Skill Building Circle diagram opposite explains how this can work to produce exemplary results in design quality and building procurement.The delivery of good schools is far more complex than a pure building solution. The monitoring of quality in recent years has been to assess the finished design with little co-ordinated national emphasis on improving standards of skill sharing and team work or in creating a central fund of knowledge to share with others. A wide and well coordinated skill base is vital to the effective production of such sensitive, complex and ultimately fascinating buildings as schools. AD Education Architects has produced a booklet “Basic Elements of School Design” - a simple step by step guide covering the important fundamentals mentioned above. Copies can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org (or in PDF format, see download section). The basic driver for design comes from the Government’s education philosophies, combined with those of the Local Authority and with the aspirations of the local community. We should set aside time to consider the basic drivers and how a good skill base, good leadership and team work can coordinate the overall offer, providing appropriate built solutions for all pupils and the community, now and for the future.
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