Stop, collaborate and listen: brand new spaces for invention
Losing a competition is rarely a reason to celebrate, but
sometimes it’s not the end of the story. In 2018 we were runner up in a
competition to fit out the Girls’ Day School Trust’s (GDST) offices. We learnt
a lot about GDST and liked their style, so while it was a shame not to win the
project, we were happy to meet afterwards for a coffee and chat about our
shared love of good education design.
GDST are always looking
for clever new ways to enhance learning, and in 2019 invited us to design an
experimental ideas space for Brighton Girls, a school for girls aged 3-18.
Having researched and designed STEAM and ideas spaces, we enjoyed the challenge
of coming up with something useful and unique.
The innovation space takes
over the ground floor of the listed Vicarage building. Our starting point was
to consider all the stages of the prototyping process, and what they might need
in terms of space and furniture:
Researching: useful resources, a library and computers
Making: CAD/CAM and digital making, AI, VR and AR and a
Testing: this can be done outside if messy
Presenting & Discussing: the largest room, filled with
light from bay windows. Soft seating is included in the bay windows, and
movable seating and tables makes it a highly flexible space.
Collaborating: a formal room with video conferencing and a
Celebrating: an exhibition space
With the client we explored layout options, flexible
furniture of all shapes, sizes and textures, as well as a colour palette in
muted tones. Clare Bowman, an expert on biophilic design who has worked with GDST on other projects, advised us on
plants to add to the spaces and a woodland mural, both of which are proven to have mood-boosting
benefits. Pupils joined us for a workshop to think about their own designs,
which was great fun, and also meant we could have a nose around GDST’s
newly kitted out office.
The project was completed in time for the autumn term 2019
and the girls made themselves at home immediately, which is the best compliment.
ClientGDST and Brighton Girls
Deciding where furniture could go in the pupil workshop
Brighton Girls - GDST
Somerset College ESTEAM Centre
ACS Egham Ideas Building
Walters & Cohen Architects
2 Wilkin Street
London NW5 3NL
020 7428 9751