How to design a school

Harmeny School, Edinburgh - Richard Murphy Architects

Harmeny School, Edinburgh - Richard Murphy Architects

Surprisingly enough there’s no magic crib sheet, but the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield can point you in the right direction.

They have compiled Imagine, a database of ‘school design best practice from around the world.’

‘Architects and researchers … have conducted a critical analysis of over 150 schools, highlighting excellence in design according to different themes. It considers integrated ICT, environmental design and flexibility for space and learning.’

The database covers schools of all types:
Educational level – nurseries through to higher education, as well as special needs.
Design type – spine, city, atrium, cluster and courtyard models.
Education model – classroom, studio, office, school within a school, faculty.

A key benefit of the database is it allows architects and designers to analyse / review a cross-section of best practice designs for inspiration or design details. It can also be used as a tool in initial consultation and brief building with client groups.

Imagine is also prepared to highlight the flaws – rather nicely termed ‘heroic failures’ – in some of the designs.

Five projects to look at:
SESC Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: a complete settlement for secondary education with living accommodation for teachers and pupils.

Discovery 1 School, Christchurch, New Zealand: a school that is truly integrated into to its social and physical context, inhabiting the top floor of a department store in Christchurch’s central business district.

Harmeny School, Edinburgh: a special needs school for 8-12 year olds, designed by observing the teaching and behaviour of the children.

Queen Mary University Blizard Building, London: it is rare to find such a playful and expressive learning space in a university building.

Perspectives Charter School, Chicago, United States: an innovative, low-budget school on a tight urban site.


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2 Responses to “How to design a school”

  1. Launch of the Centre for School Design « Building Says:

    […] articles The imagine database: best practice for schools School interiors Social media: the benefits for architects and […]

  2. School interiors « Interior Design Says:

    […] By esieditor Best practice in school design has been covered over on the ESI Building blog. Below are five projects with interesting interior architecture or […]

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