Creating a Pattern Language for School Design

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Download: Thinking, Teaching, Learning: Explorations in Primary School Design

The idea of creating a useful and helpful pattern language for School Design has been a guiding principle behind the development of the A+DS Smarter Places website. And the content developed by the University of Edinburgh Architecture Department has been a key component in this.

A number of the images used on the Smarter Places website are design ideas created by Edinburgh University architectural students. These students have been involved in an architectural design unit at the University, which has focussed on primary school design. The premise behind the unit was to answer the question ‘what is a primary school’. In their considerations of this question, they have developed a visual language and vocabulary about school design.

Sam Cassels, A+DS Schools Design Advisor, provides a preface to the publication, and writes;

‘Consultation, engagement, participation – all become meaningless architectural gestures if we refuse to speak each others language. If you believe, as I do, that great design springs from meaningful conversations with those who give significance to our buildings – the people who live in and around them – then we need first of all to understand each other.

Sometimes all it takes to reveal deep seated aspirations or new directions is a heartfelt sentence or a compelling picture. For this to happen we need two ingredients: firstly, a context where everyone has permission for their voice to be heard; and secondly, a wealth of sentences and pictures to choose from which capture and inspire our thoughts and emotions.

That is why the work of these students, and the words and images they use to explore education and design, are so important. They offer a bridge between the often separated cultures of the client, the child, and the designer. They hint at possibilities and potentials in a way which I believe can be enjoyed and exploited by pupils and professionals alike. A translation tool for all of us – providing new ways of communicating our hopes.’

To purchase a copy of the book, you can do so by contacting Fiona McLachlan at University of Edinburgh on 0131 650 2304 or email f.mclachlan@ed.ac.uk. Price: £7.50

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