Building a ‘Box’ - Discourses of School Design in the UK

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Vol. 3, No. 5, 2009

8 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2009

See all articles by Olga N. Nikitina-Den Besten

Olga N. Nikitina-Den Besten

University of Northampton - Centre for Children and Youth

John Horton

University of Northampton

Peter Kraftl

University of Leicester

Peter Adey

Keele University

Date Written: October 23, 2009

Abstract

There is currently considerable activity in the UK directed towards the reconstruction or refurbishment of secondary and primary schools. In this context, the paper looks closely at various discourses that evolve around school architecture. The omnipresent discourses at the national level are those of and around Building Schools for the Future (BSF) - a major government school building programme. BSF is presented and perceived as an ambitious project set out to bring radical changes for the better not only to material conditions of schooling, but also to the concept of secondary education itself. However, as the “first waves” of BSF are carried out, reports are emerging in the media that express disappointment with the project. At the local level, we have found, through an in-depth ethnographic research in several British schools, an array of discourses that contribute to the complex decision-making process of creating an individual school building. Such discourses, in which school staff, pupils, architects, consultants or local authorities are engaged, carry with them very concrete implications for the design of material school spaces. For example, a discourse of heritage brought in by the architects in one of our case-studies, resulted in a particular - rectangular - shape of the future school building, which would be congruent with the industrial past of the area where the school is situated. The paper also shows how the national BSF discourses are translated to the local level.

Keywords: School Architecture, Design Process, Discourse, Building Schools for the Future

Suggested Citation

Nikitina-Den Besten, Olga N. and Horton, John and Kraftl, Peter and Adey, Peter, Building a ‘Box’ - Discourses of School Design in the UK (October 23, 2009). Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Vol. 3, No. 5, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1493145

Olga N. Nikitina-Den Besten (Contact Author)

University of Northampton - Centre for Children and Youth ( email )

United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.linkedin.com/in/olgadenbesten

John Horton

University of Northampton ( email )

Park Campus
Boughton Green Road
Northampton, NN2 7AL
United Kingdom

Peter Kraftl

University of Leicester ( email )

University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

Peter Adey

Keele University ( email )

Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG
United Kingdom

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