Can Secondary School Architecture Build Community, Encourage Working Successfully and Enhance Well-Being? Student and Staff Evaluations.
Secondary School Architecture
Building Schools for the Future (BSF)
Community, Working Successfully and Well-Being
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
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AbstractIn Britain, the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme numbered among its aims: ‘the building of sustainable communities in which students and teachers alike [could] thrive’ (DfES, 2003, p.88). Modern, purpose-built and ecologically efficient architecture was regarded as central to this. What is less clear is how particular architectural features could contribute to the positive effects hypothesized in BSF literature. Vischer (2008) has identified three areas in which environmental psychology research explores the effects of workspaces and workplace design on individuals: Territoriality and Belonging (how much users feel a part of the organisation, as a result of using the space); Productivity (how the space affects the performance of the individual, the team and the organisation) and Satisfaction (how users feel about the physical and aesthetic aspects of a space). However, the experiences of children working in schools may be very different to that of adults working in offices; and the role of the architecture in these different contexts may also vary between them. In addition, there remains an opportunity to explore these issues in secondary school settings as BSF was initially set-up in response to concerns about secondary school architecture. This research re-conceptualized Vischer’s three areas as Community (Territoriality…), Working Successfully (Productivity) and Well-being (Satisfaction), to explore experiences of architecture in a school context. This study over two phases operated from a Realist perspective (Blaikie, 1993) and used an Exploratory Evaluation Research methodology (Clarke, 2005) to explore the responses of students and staff to the architecture in 8 secondary schools: Schools A-D in the South-West of England (total sample n=105 students; n=26 staff) and Schools E-H in London (total sample n=83 students; n=2 staff). Schools A, E, F and H are BSF schools; B, C, D and G are non-BSF (mixed architectural styles). Phase 1 used questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to explore student and staff responses to the architecture in their schools; and how this architecture affects their sense of Community, Working Successfully and WellBeing. Phase 2 used a classroom-based computer-aided design (CAD) activity to explore whether participants could offer architectural design solutions for classrooms and schools, according to their needs. Thematic analysis revealed common definitions of Community, Working Successfully and Well-Being across all schools; design choices which aimed to maximize natural light; beliefs that SEN status is central to school functioning well as a community; and beliefs about the role of curved architecture in improving acoustical quality. Implications for EP practice are considered and future research directions proposed.
TypeThesis or dissertation