Sustainability the key to future-proofing schools

10th December 2004 at 00:00
The Executive wants more schools to be built along sustainable lines, recycling materials, maximising use of natural daylight and being energy efficient.

It published guidance and case studies last week to coincide with the conference, but Lori McElroy, the sustainable development manager at The Lighthouse design and architectural centre in Glasgow, said there remain relatively few such buildings. She felt there was a lack of understanding about what sustainability actually means.

The Lighthouse is involved in a three-year "design for learning" project, funded through the Executive's future learning and teaching programme, which brings pupils together with some of Scotland's leading designers and architects to work along with 10 schools.

In a booklet on design strategies just issued, Stuart MacDonald, director of The Lighthouse, said more time had to be allocated for design under PPP projects. He praised Clackmannanshire and East Renfrewshire councils for doing just that "which has allowed them to clarify expectations, build consensus and allow for practical considerations such as budget-testing".

Clackmannanshire says its approach allowed an initial period of "brainstorming design ideas" which sketched out some plans but, more importantly, offered some thoughts on how secondary education is likely to change in the foreseeable future. Architects were then expected to develop ideas which were "reasonably durable".

The conclusions were that the challenge of design is to build schools capable of accommodating a range of possible futures and "not to follow slavishly some blueprint for education in 2034." There is likely to be a blurring of boundaries between educational and social space.

Clackmannanshire's approach also points to the need for schools to become more human in scale.

"Even if the institution remains large, it must be capable of sub-division so that the immediate environment is welcoming and intimate," it states.

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