Outdoor Learning

Time: 14:00 - 15:30

Date: Week 6: 6-10 July


The Outdoor School: Claire Barton, Haverstock & Richard Cottrell, Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture 

Haverstock and Cottrell and Vermeulen have collaborated to come up with a new model primary school in response to changing regulations and the lack of consistent architectural quality being offered to schools and local authorities. Both practices have been at the forefront of school design for over 30 years, the idea was simple to create a new a mainstream outdoor school. The aim is to combine

  • Best practice learning spaces
  • High performance sustainable school
  • High quality architecture
  • Best value

Our new school is completely naturally ventilated and based on outdoor circulation linking classrooms under a canopy.  In relation to the current pandemic, two things are obvious new schools need to be healthy and sustainable and existing schools require new strategies of occupation. This has led us to to propose a new type of school that can respond to the current needs in education design. Our idea is simple:

  1. Tree canopy (roof)

The provision of a low-cost frame with a waterproof uninsulated roof deck which gives a tempered environment between classrooms where children can move around, play and learn. These incidental spaces remove the need for about 300m2 of heated circulation space resulting in considerable cost savings.

  1. Cabins (classrooms)

The provision of simple insulated ‘cabins’ in standard timber construction or off-site manufacture. These won’t need weather protection as they are placed deep under the main roof. These will be lower cost than the equivalent net area in traditional construction.

  1. Learning landscape

The inside/outside space has a unique character with planting & a range of different smaller/flexible intervention spaces to suit different learners needs – pods, yurts, shelters. It is a microclimate and a tempered space that can be used throughout the school.

We believe that direct access to the outside from all classrooms in a primary school is highly desirable and would be a principle that schools would support. Outside play and learning benefit but protected from the elements. Bringing some of the activities into a tempered space will be seen positively by schools. A large canopy outside of classrooms also extends classrooms and all year use of outside learning spaces and so providing more learning space, as well as providing generous ways around and through the building particularly important in the current situation

Social distancing within school grounds: Chris Raven, Atkins

Current Government guidance recognises that social distancing within schools will be difficult to achieve and there is growing recognition that outdoor learning needs to be a central part of each school’s efforts to maintain restricted social bubbles and distance between pupils. Chris Raven, a Learning through Landscapes (LtL) accredited Landscape Architect, will discuss ideas to help mitigate some of the constraints within school grounds. The discussion will be based around eight themes that are shown on a poster Atkins produced with LtL to help schools and, although aimed at mainstream Primary schools, Chris will highlight considerations for inclusive application in other SEN settings.

Making the most of your site: Emma McNicholas, OOBE

School sites come in all shapes and sizes and each has their own unique characteristics, but how do we make the most of them? This presentation looks at how OOBE approaches the design of external spaces to meet the requirements and aspirations of the end user, whilst optimising existing landscape features.




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