How teaching can influence the built environment.

A few years ago I was involved in a research program for young professionals facilitated by CEFPI (Council of Educational Facility Planners International) called the Mayfield Project. Our submission consisted of a number of case studies which explored the relationship between pedagogy and the built environment. I examined a recently completed open plan science lab building. The process had a huge influence on my professional development and the results changed the way I viewed educational design, they are summarised below:

A teachers classroom is like their home, it needs to be secure, provide privacy while being adaptable with good links to a range of spaces. Multi purpose or flexible spaces run the risk of becoming homeless. Openness and transparency can come at the expense of privacy and security. This Science Centre designed as open plan for accessibility attempts to find a middle ground.

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Creating a Construction Happiness Index


We recently had an ACA meeting between directors of architectural firms and building contractors. We talked about the usual things – upcoming work, contracts, and pressure on prices and fees. There was one topic, however that had not been raised before: mental health in the construction industry. A builder mentioned it in relation to issues they had seen amongst their staff and subcontractors.

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So you think you can dance? Designing a Performing Arts Centre

Salisbury East High School: Performing Arts Centre

Salisbury East High School: Performing Arts Centre



Salisbury East High School’s popular dance curriculum has informed the design of a new Arts Facility to be constructed within the heart of the school.
Education in the Arts is pushing for creative, flexible spaces within schools to adapt to the fluid nature of teaching creative endeavours.

Together with key stakeholders we have rationalised the current building stock to make way for a Performing Arts building that embraces contemporary education in the Arts. John Held’s initial concept of wrapping the building upon itself to create a sheltered learning space has been interwoven by interiors that layer upon themselves to create drama and performance within the communal spaces.

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Building Information Modelling: How is it changing Architecture?

Samaritan College, Whyalla: Xavier Wing
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is changing the practice of architecture, and its impact is beginning to revolutionise the industry.

The digital age brought with it the birth of CAD (computer aided design), the information age has evolved CAD into BIM. So what is BIM? How does one model ‘information’ and how does this have anything to do with architecture? These questions are hotly debated by many who claim to be “experts”.

Perhaps it is better to start by discussing what BIM is not. To dispel some of the myths lets briefly discuss some common misconceptions:

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A visit to Reggio Emilia

South Australian Study Group, Reggio Emilia, January 2014

John Held was fortunate to be part of a South Australian Study Group which visited Reggio Emilia in January 2014. The group met for lectures (in Italian, but with fantastic translators) and visits to early childhood centres in the city. Led by Carla Rinaldi, SA Thinker in Residence, and Daniela Lanzi, the group was able to better understand the underlying philosophy of their approach to early childhood education.

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A client’s obligations under the SA Work Health & Safety Act 2012


Like all parties involved in construction, as architects we have legal duties which include the consideration of safety in design, governed by Codes of Practice.

However clients also have obligations to consult with the architect during the design process, so that we can understand the specific issues relating to that particular project. Useful information could include typical issues relating to that building type or industry: for example a history of slips, trips and falls.

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Adventures on the high Cs: Changing the Construction Industry in South Australia

  • Salisbury East High School: Performing Arts Centre

  • seeking truth in the way we build buildings?

  • Salisbury East High School: Performing Arts Centre

  • Salisbury East High School: Performing Arts Centre

  • BIM can help the Construction Industry become more Sustainable

  • Salisbury East High School: Performing Arts Centre:

    Autodesk Glue Model

Productivity in the Building Industry in South Australia: What do we need to change?

John Held recently spoke at a seminar organised by BuildingSMART and the Lean Construction Institute.  Here’s part of the talk, about what has to change to increase productivity, and how Building Information Modelling (BIM) can help this change: Continue reading

Hills, rocks, trees and shared spaces: a different view of schools


From inception, the Galilee Catholic School was considered to be simply one part of the overall local community – a place for all, to learn, meet and chat, for creating and reinforcing links between different sectors of the community in the pursuit of life-long learning.

To achieve this, they have had to re-think schooling and innovate at many levels.

Innovation is defined as doing something different: introducing new things. The innovation at Galilee school since its inception has not been about the newest technology or slick buildings, but about deep thought about its role in the community and the underlying educational philosophy.

Since master planning for the school started in 2005 the design has tried to respond to that approach through its site layout and the planning of the units.

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I’ve Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now …

John Held considers the opportunities and costs of cloud computing in small practice.

Mostly we just want to be architects. But, to do so we need to understand and be able to use technology. So our practice has been on a journey for a long time now – buying software and servers and all the stuff needed to produce pretty good coordinated BIM models. We are a small office but with inhouse expertise and really good technical support our system is predictable and reliable. Our ADSL connection is a bit creaky but it has survived until now. But the impact of cloud computing on architect’s offices like ours is both an opportunity and a threat. The opportunities are becoming apparent.

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