Monday, August 19, 2013

PS 13.02 Design for Learning - How Pedgagogy Shapes Our Schools

So... not doing too well on the blog this year! And I didn't even write this post myself.
This was the first of the collaboration between PS and CEFPI. I only just remembered to post this because I got the reminder that PS was on tonight....
Words  are courtesy of HP. There are images too but I can't find them so I will repost this later with images.

The second Perth Samplings (PS) event for the year focused on ‘Designing for Learning’ and brought together three speakers from educational backgrounds. First up was Jeff Phillips, a learning environment specialist/consultant, second was Dick Donaldson, half of Donaldson + Warn, and finally, Carol Strouss, Ashdale Secondary College’s principal – the school of which D+W are the designers for. 

Jeff Phillips
Coming from a background of working in many diverse countries, Jeff Phillips talked us through a brief history of classroom planning and design and how these rooms have evolved over the last century or so. He explained the trend of moving away from the generic teacher standing in-front of the classroom talking to seated students, to a more fluid model of where the students can learn when, where and however they choose. Students now, may learn better in smaller groups, where the teacher can speak to them at their own level, or where group work can lead to students learning off each other.
Phillip’s extended experience on educational briefs has led him to develop the following elements that form the context of an educational brief:
- Philosophical, religious and cultural beliefs plus aspirations
- Political policies and ideology
- The learning process
- Pedagogy – the choice of teaching methodologies
- School infrastructure – provision for learning

Dick Donaldson
Dick Donaldson began by placing an importance on new schools in developing communities building their own identity. But how can you do this when often new schools don’t have a built history to draw from, and after taking a quick glance on Google Earth, it looks like they cleared all trees and vegetation prior to construction of Ashdale Secondary College.
This school was essentially planned for two large stages, however with the introduction of Year 7 into the high school foray, a third and final stage was added to the school’s masterplan.
Some of the main design points of the school included a row of central courtyards of which two blocks of classrooms are sited around. A north-south street sits below the northern row of classrooms and above the southern row of classrooms and the library/café hub. All classrooms have operable dividing walls, a large sliding door and favour a northern aspect.
One of the interior slides that Donaldson focused on for a while depicted a few classrooms adjacent to each other, with a wide corridor that included a large informal breakout space. Here a mixture of loose/fixed furniture and coloured carpet had been used to guide the students in how to use the breakout space without restricting them to a particular configuration. The classrooms also had oversized sliding doors that opened up the room onto this extra space, allowing for the teacher to watch students in both spaces at the simultaneously. These spaces allowed for more opportunities of ‘incidental learning’ by creating a variety of areas for students to occupy.
Donaldson finished up with a summary that when the staff and students feel and believe that their spaces are well respected, then there is an optimistic approach to the school. 

Carol Strauss
Coming from the background of education and having the students as first priority, it was refreshing to hear from the ‘end-user’ principal, Carol Strouss. From her introduction, it was clear that she had a strong and open relationship with the College’s architect.
After a brief introduction to herself and school, she showed us the promotional video that they provide new parents with. The film seemed to focus heavily upon the digital and computer integration that the school has with the students. It depicted students using a lot of Apple products to complete their work, and it made me wonder; given they have so much access to the internet and online communication, how much actual work would they be doing and not just going on Facebook or any other social media platform?
After the video finished, Strouss continued to reinforce similar concepts the D&W had previously mentioned of having the school being future-focused, and therefore having flexible options for formal and informal spaces for the students. For her, the brief was about defining what made this new school different to existing ones – considering the context of where the students came from. In order to address the student context, Strouss described the following aspects that should be addressed by the architects:
 - The school’s signature programs (science and technology focus)
- College values
- Community identity (families)
- College partnerships (ECU)
Finishing off, Strouss the commented on the school taking “pride of place”, where comments from the public were that they thought the campus was a private college or a university. Comments like this prove that great work can be achieved from limited budgets and that public schools do not mean average demountable buildings.  

Site Visit
We were given the opportunity to visit the site as part of the Cefpi program to highlight some of the “unique teaching environments focusing on secondary learning in Perth” (taken from their invite). We were greeted by the school and taken to the auditorium where there were light refreshments (bonus!) and then a brief speech given by Brad (I hope that’s his name) from d+w about the planning and stages. This was then followed by a short speech from Carol Strouss.
Without going into too much detail, the school had nice cohesion to it, in that all the buildings connected to one another, and I was only the southern row of newer buildings (Stage 2/3) that stood more as objects by themselves. Some buildings – such as the Admin were greatly emphasised with large double volumes, expanses of glass, public art pieces and dramatic lighting – which highlighted its importance as the main entrance to the campus. While other general classroom buildings were toned down in other aspects.
Overall; very impressive levels of design, thought and future planning are evident for a public school. While it is quite apparent that a fair bit of money has been allocated, given the materials, scale of some buildings, and general level of finish, the final outcome seems to be worth every dollar, resulting in a school in which the students and teachers hold a high level of pride with. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Iwanoff Home Open

Another Iwanoff for sale! This one is also amazing (of course).

Details here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Iwanoff Project

I went to the launch of the Iwanoff Project last week. It was fun! The best part was of course seeing the house. Like a lot of Iwanoff projects, I like how these houses feel spacious without being excessive. When did we all decide that we needed 4 tiny bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a powder room, home theatre and formal and casual dining rooms?

As usual there were lovely and amazing sculptural details and was beautifully situated on it's site.

I love the concept of the Iwanoff Project, taking out basically everything that was in the house and replacing it with curated objects. There were so many things that I wanted to buy but of course my lowly graduate architect salary does not allow for such things. There were apparently over 500 visitors over the event which is huge and I think we should take this as a sign that Perth is growing up and becoming curious.

Special guests were Ljilijanna Ravlich, whom I must say has amazing legs! Oh and Eric Ripper, whom I am told has since retired.

I didn't take any photos, I am much too embarrassed to do such things but there are photos here.

I wanted to buy these earrings by Anna Davern. They are extremely oversized and digitally printed on metal I think? So cool and kitsch. Unfortunately I hate wearing earrings.


Thanks to the owners of 53 Shannon Road and Marisia from *aestheticalliance for bringing this to the people of Perth.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Going Bush

Last week I had to go wander around in the bush for second time in a week because a certain someone gave us the wrong address for the site. 
It was hot.
I stupidly wore a silk shirt on that day. 
I also climbed over a barbed wire fence. 
I came home with twigs and leaves in my hair.
It was kind of fun?


There were also lots of bones everywhere. Hopefully not human.

Luckily I had my trusty safety boots. These are proving to be the most practical and worthwhile purchase possibly ever.

Thursday, February 14, 2013