Architects go back to school

18/05/2015 - 15:06


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WA architects who visit schools on a voluntary basis are incorporating lessons learned when designing new education facilities.

Architects go back to school
NEW SCHOOL: Ros Marsland and Paul Edwards at a site visit of Mount Lawley Primary School, which was redeveloped after a fire. Photo: Attila Csaszar

WA architects who visit schools on a voluntary basis are incorporating lessons learned when designing new education facilities.

A small group of local architects is volunteering its time to improve school design and facilitate better learning, in consultation with education and community stakeholders.

For the past decade, not-for-profit group the Council of Educational Facility Planners International has developed networking opportunities and undertaken site visits to listen to principals, teachers, students, parents and other interested community members.

CEFPI members, of whom there are 117 in Western Australia, then incorporate what they have learned into their roles as architects when designing new schools or retrofitting existing ones.

CEFPI Australasia awards chair Lara Mackintosh, who is also an architect at Viridis and an academic, told Business News the group was motivated by being able to create experiences with design that were functional and inspiring.

“It’s rewarding to talk to educators, to learn different points of views that can inform the architectural process of design,” Ms Mackintosh said.

She said having access to schools also presented an opportunity to see how students and teachers interacted within the space the architects had designed.

“To see our projects in use and see any adjustments that have been made, as architects we don’t often get that opportunity to reflect,” Ms Mackintosh said.

CEFPI WA chair Ros Marsland, who is also the education program manager within the state’s public private partnership project for WA schools, said the WA branch was one of the more active groups in Australia.

Members were also well represented in the state wide building program to accommodate year 7 students into secondary schools.

“Everybody’s there because they want to do a better job,” Ms Marsland said.

“They have a real appetite to learn and facilitate new ways of learning.”

She said members were also growing increasingly interested in how spaces could be designed to incorporate new technologies at school.

“Who knows what education will look like in 25 years? So we ask ourselves how do you design for that,” Ms Marsland said.

CEFPI, which also organises symposiums, workshops and awards, operates informally.

“We don’t consult; there’s no agenda other than sharing information and ideas which is really nice, it’s quite refreshing,” Ms Mackintosh said.

One way its members interact is with a presentation style invented in Japan called Pecha Kucha, where a number of speakers spend only a few minutes on stage to discuss their projects and show pictures of their work.

One of CEFPI’s recent projects was liaising with staff and parents and the community during the redevelopment of Mount Lawley Primary School, after an arson attack in 2012.

CEFPI WA events committee chair Paul Edwards, who is also the director of Site Architecture Studio, recently joined CEFPI on a site visit to the school.

In charge of the redesign and project management of the school were Subiaco-based EIW Architects directors Philip Idle and Tony D'Andrea.

Ms Marsland, who taught at the school, whose children attended the school and was also involved in its redevelopment, said it was a pleasure to give the community a school it could be proud of again.

“It’s been an interesting project because of the large amount of community involvement,” she said.


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