The Classroom of the Future for St Francis of Assisi was one of 30 projects funded by the DCSF with the aim of challenging conventional thinking for the built learning environment. A consultative process involving pupils, staff and the local community resulted in a brief that was both practical and transformational – the classroom was to dissolve boundaries between inside and outside and have a futuristic image, incorporating an astronomical observatory and communicating a sense of enquiry about the world and the universe. The school’s head transformed the surrounding playground into a forest, the classroom seen as futuristic thought capsule surrounded by green leaf.
The functional educational needs – the emphasis on wireless IT, the observatory, the incorporation of a greenhouse, combined with the environmental considerations, drove the building design. The selection of materials and technologies – pre-fabricated timber laminated pod, ETFE dome, stone gabion walls communicated the language of building to the young users. Occupied by a different cohort each year the school observed marked improvements in educational results while the pupils were based in this very different learning environment.
Small project, large heart, this classroom influenced much of Studio E Architect’s follow on work.
Studio E Architects produced an exciting design for Classrooms of the Future – our initiative for testing out innovative designs for schools in pilot projects. What really impressed me was that they did not compromise their early vision and turned a futuristic image into reality, stimulating the minds of all the children using the building. Chris Bissell, Principal Architect Schools Building & Design Unit, DfES