School redesign

7th November 2003 at 00:00
Our pupils redesigned the outside of their school with help from an architecture student at London Metropolitan University. Harry Westbrook's thesis required him to do some designs for a real place, so he worked with about 15 Year 9 art and design students who were part of our gifted and talented cohort.

Together with design staff, Harry met the group weekly for about 20 weeks.

The project focused on the outside areas of the school which - being this part of north London - are very stark and concrete.

They asked fellow students what they felt about the school environment and visited public and private "outside leisure or rest" areas around London, photographing and sketching.

In school they examined plans of courtyards in libraries, universities and other schools. The group then designed on paper new ideas which would provide rest, shelter and privacy for other students and made prototypes.

The culmination of the project was an exhibition of their work, which I visited with the Islington education action zone director, Margy Knutson, and a prospectus to take to possible sponsors.

Not only did the project engage some of our most able students it also provided them with an understanding of the sociology of the playground, such as who occupies and dominates different nooks and crannies.

It has also provided designs for the kind of modern and imaginative seating, shelters and "chat-zones" which young people, in particular girls, want in their schoolyard, as well as leaving space for the games (mainly football) that boys tend to pursue.

* Margy Knutson, head of Islington Education Action Zone, is seeking money to put the designs into action. Email: Trevor Averre-Beeson, headteacher, Islington Green School, Islington

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