One of the issues that emerged at the recent Australian Institute of Architects Conference in Adelaide was that, as architects, we aren’t that good at describing the work that we do and the value of our particular skill set.
Design can be particularly hard to pin down – the design process varies a lot from person to person, and the results of that process are hard to evaluate with quantitative measures. It is a process that has many ‘right’ answers to the same question (demonstrated by the entries to any design competition).
This allows all team members to discuss, in a very different way, how they might work as an integrated team, with great benefits to the whole project.
While with us, Peter gave our staff some off-the-cuff thoughts about the profession. He’s expanded those ideas in this month’s article for the Association of Consulting Architects: BIM – the Architects’ Trojan Horse.
It’s not all complimentary about our profession – but well worth a read!
I’d like to reflect on how the concept of the competent child has changed the way I work as an architect.
I can be a procrastinator. There are bits of the house extension we did over 20 years ago that aren’t quite finished. But I like getting things finished. Those involved in building projects at home or at school will know the final touches can take a long time.
I’m lucky enough to have been involved in the Galilee Catholic School at Aldinga Beach, South Australia, with Tina Adamo and then Jodie Higgins and the staff since its inception in 2005. I’ve worked on additional research projects related to early childhood, been involved in the Carla Rinaldi residency and was fortunate to have been on the SA study tour to Reggio Emilia at the beginning of last year. Throughout all of these experiences what has stood out for me has been the honesty involved in not pretending to have all the answers. So for me the interesting outcome of really taking to heart the concept of the competent child is that it’s never finished.
Sure, you can finish the new building. You can design for flexibility and adaptability. But if you are listening to the competent child, you will celebrate the changes that they make to what was planned. That environment will never be “finished”.
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.
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.