Freedom in Education
Type: School of the future concept
What was the client's brief?
The town of Machynlleth required a combined school due to the growing demand on the existing school system and lack of funds in the local area for an additional school. Our brief entailed that we utilise one of the existing school sites within the town to create a new combined school able to work for both the local community and with the future of the town. The brief asked us to challenge the current education system in the UK and design a school for the furture.
What did we do?
We began by looking to the experts on teaching and how architecture could aid in the teaching process. Through this process we learned about the four ‘Pillars of Education’ and decided to base our approach around these. We also found compelling research into the flaws of standardised testing and decided our design would overhaul the traditional teaching atmosphere. We realised that we needed not only to remove the classroom element of teaching, but to also make education fun!
We decided to place our idea within nature, making a space for the children to learn from and about the environment and allow ‘hands on experience’ for the children whilst also providing curricular studies. There were no set walls within the design encouraging teachers and students to carve different spaces out of the architecture by pulling blocks out of the floor and walls to make areas of seclusion or stages to perform. The interior landscape is dotted with timber columns, some of which act as lighting whilst others contain telescopic acoustic fabrics which can be pulled out to create a division in spaces. This open approach to classes aims to encourage students’ interest in surrounding classes and increasing focus on lessons taking place.
The surrounding site would be filled with a new forest and walkways for the students to explore and encourage cycling down at the base of the trees or up high within the canopies. Classrooms would also be dotted around the site for more secluded studying as well as an outdoor amphitheatre for performances.
We showed the design to be constructed heavily out of timber to blend with the surroundings but also showcased local slate tying the design to local history and allowing gigantic chalkboards for student and teacher to draw on.