Monday, 13 June 2011

Building Cheaper Schools

Back when Michael Gove MP was bogged down in cancelling the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, I wrote this article (here).  I argued that whilst good design was important in education buildings, the BSF programme had been a 'cash cow' for contractors and consultants.  Surely it was better to establish minimum design standards that could elevate all schools to an acceptable level without the largesse of some new schools.

It was therefore interesting to see a comparison of two new schools in The Independent (here).  The article compares the City of Westminster College with Catmose College in Rutland.  The former was designed by international Danish practice Schmidt Hammer Lassen and cost £70m or £2,900 per sqm.  The latter, designed by Jonathan Ellis-Miller, adopted a more flexible approach and came in at £1,800 per sqm.  From the article's review of the two designs, it is encouraging that a 'social and functional' school can be developed at this lower cost.  Lessons should be learnt from Catmose because with public spending facing a continued squeeze, no education authority can rely on the grand dreams of BSF any longer.

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