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School Design Today; Standardization and the making of places with identity

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Esme Brooker
Mackintosh School of Architecture | UK
In 2011 the UK Government controversially called to address the urgent need for schools provision, in the context of harsh economic conditions, through the use of standardized plans known as the ‘Baseline Designs’. December 2013 saw the Progress Update report acknowledging concern that “the Department might impose a solution, or supress innovation”, advising that “the designs form a starting point for discussion” rather than be used as previously intended as “off-the-shelf design”, ensuring “contractors remain on-risk for the design element of the build”.(1)

The Baseline Designs and accompanying policy will be analysed in order to ascertain the extent to which flexibility is facilitated, and as such, how far standardization (both administrative and physical) can be beneficial to schools provision today, without compromising the making of places with identity.
Through an analysis of Critical Regionalism as a potential framework for achieving ‘identity’ in built form, and with reference to built examples, the paper questions the role of regionalism in the contemporary context, and seeks to define ‘identity’ in realistically achievable terms, relevant to the current socio-economic condition and its impact on the education sector.

With reference to previous policy, architectural precedent and socio-economic context post-war to present, the dissertation seeks to conclude how both government and the architectural profession can re-engage with lessons learnt from past successes in order to work effectively together to build the best possible schools for the future. The paper concentrates primarily on English policy, as power to legislate over education was devolved in 1998 to Northern Ireland and Scotland, and to Wales in 2006. (2) (3) (4)

(1) James Sebastian & Brown Elizabeth, Review of Education Capital: Progress Update, (Department for Education, 12/2013), 18
(2) Cabinet Office, ‘Devolution Settlement: Northern Ireland’, GOV.UK, Accessed 03/14
(3) Cabinet Office, ‘Devolution Settlement: Scotland, GOV.UK, Accessed 03/14
(4) Cabinet Office, ‘Devolution Settlement: Wales, GOV.UK, Accessed 26/03/14

Esme Brooker

Florian Urban
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