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School design – the ultimate in collaboration


ITM special edition: designing for learning

With so many new international schools being built, hitting the pause button to take a look at what is happening is time well spent. Over the last two months we have been doing just that –  talking to architects, designers and teachers involved in contemporary school design for this special edition.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be a member of a team designing a new school (or a new space in an old school) you’ll know what an exhilarating experience it is. You really have to think about your teaching and the kind of learning that you want to happen in the spaces you are helping to create. Working with the professionals who design schools opens up a whole new perspective about what a school is and what it can be. It is the ultimate in professional collaboration with some of the most creative people in the world.

Approaches to school design have come such a long way in the last thirty years – and half the fun is finding out about what other people have been doing and the problems they have solved along the way. The elegant solutions being put into practice can be breathtaking.

Two worlds coming together

What struck us is how the world of the educator and the world of the architect have come together in order to create some amazing new spaces. Everyone we spoke to emphasised the importance of listening to each other. There is an almost universal emphasis on sustainable, green design and a deep desire for students and teachers to enjoy the environment in which they work.

The influence of early pioneers is also profound and far-reaching. You don’t have to be a Reggio Emilia devotee to believe that a school envirnment can be ‘the third teacher’. In many ways, this now just seems to be common sense.

Don’t hesitate – get involved!

And if you haven’t been on a design team yet, this is your opportunity to have a look at some of the ideas out there and to get a flavour of what the experience is like. As veteran school project leader, Ron Stones says:

“The responsibilities are enormous, but as the team comes together, the community moves forward and students enter the new school for the first time, nothing can match the sense of accomplishment of leading a successful school design project. It is, despite the challenges, the most wonderful experience in the educational world.”

We couldn’t agree more. If you get the chance to join a design team don’t let it pass you by! It’s life-changing.


With grateful thanks to Bogle Architects for the feature image.




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