Kit Wan, Harry Ker Shiun

Reimagining the Learning Environment

Driven by Stephen J. Ball’s criticisms on education in “Foucault, Power and Education”, the ‘school’ was reinvented to align with the primary mission of education – the pursuit of knowledge. Shortcomings were remediated by five ‘alternative’ educational theories, whereby common themes of nature and collaboration were carried forward into design.

The typology also addresses the present challenge in the UK’s education sector – the dire need for secondary school places. Design strategy, site selection, and operating model of the typology demonstrate its viability in the real world, marking the beginning of a wider program to mitigate the national crisis.

Aims & Objectives
The primary objective is to produce a building typology in accord with the quest for knowledge. The secondary objective concerns the practical – to manifest the typology in the UK, mitigating the national shortage of secondary schools.

This thesis was guided by the following questions:
1) How can the common themes of ‘alternative’ teaching methods inform the typology, to reinvent ‘schools’ as true centres of knowledge?
2) How can design strategy, site selection and operation of the typology mitigate the shortage of secondary schools in the UK, concurrently?
Schools are domains of knowledge, integral to every society. By drawing upon nature and collaboration, the two common strands in the five ‘alternative’ pedagogical approaches, this thesis ‘reinvented’ the conventional ‘school’ as a typology more in line with the pursuit, and exchange of knowledge.

Everyone is a learner. To foster ‘collaboration’ beyond the school with the local community, the public is consolidated with an otherwise private infrastructure – the ‘school’. The typology demonstrates that the public and private realm can co-exist safely so long as security is addressed.

To reap the benefits of outdoor learning, the design strategy facilitates the permeation of nature. Since each lot poses unique constraints, the typology will manifest with variation on different sites.
In conjunction with site selection and the operating model, the typology also addresses the practical context – the national shortage of secondary schools in the UK.

That said, the construction of new schools will do little to remedy the decline of the existing stock. As such, the typology must not only manifest as new builds, but also as extensions to existing schools. Above all, to make a true difference to the shortage, Modular Methods of Construction (MMC) instead of cellular design should be adopted. Large-scale manifestations of the typology should also be pursued as MMC may only prove worthwhile for big developments.

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Harry Ker SHIUN
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