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Learning from the 1960s

18 Oct 2023
Design, Construction & Delivery Stage

Learning from the 60s
Simon Innes, Architect & Founding Director, Innes Associates

In the 1960s the UK built some of the most innovative school buildings in Europe and developed advanced systems for off-site manufacture. Now we are demolishing them, but do we know what we are pulling down? Over the past 10 years I have walked around many such buildings, spoken to headteachers and met 100s of pupils working and studying in these buildings, and contributed to their partial remodelling and rebuilding. Despite the overheating, asbestos, and single glazing there are some remarkable design solutions created using a standardized “kit of parts”. Many of these buildings are able to form a valuable part of the UK’s future school estate.

This talk presents three of the country's most interesting examples of school buildings from this period and explains what we can learn from them. It distinguishes the common design and construction faults from the innovations and explains in what ways their performance exceeds that of our latest output. It discusses the controversial topics of pedagogical innovation, open-plan learning and the place of schools in the community.

The presentation gives case studies of how such buildings have been adapted for 21st century use, using the best of their school planning and building on the spirit of innovation. Without glossing over their shortcomings, the studies explain how such premises can form a valuable part of the future.

Finally, the presentation speculates about how our approach to design and construction might improve in the light of these examples, learning from the innovations as well as the mistakes.

University of Liverpool School of Law & Social Justice – Creative Reactivation of an Existing Building
Paul Bell, Partner, Ryder Architecture

This presentation brings together client and design team to discuss the University of Liverpool School of Law and Social Justice project. Raising discussion on the design process and how the differing stakeholders worked together and addressed complications throughout.

The £16.5m project involved the consolidation of the existing fragmented schools into a combined fit for purpose facility. Complete transformation of the old 1960’s concrete Cypress Building into a new state of the art facility for the School of Law and Social Justice. It enabled the creation of a new strong identity for the school with enhanced presence and sense of arrival at the heart of the university campus.

The design involved a range of innovative and adaptable environments including multi volume collaborative and social spaces to complement improved teaching, lecture and academic staff facilities. A transparent and vibrant heart providing the school with a strong sense of unity that nurtures collaborative working and learning. The heart space also enhances the internal environment of the building as a whole, supporting the wellbeing and satisfaction of the building users. Enhancements to the building envelope deliver improvements in user comfort and operational energy demand which support the university’s long term carbon and user satisfaction goals.

John Ridgett, Associate Director - Atkins Limited
Simon Innes, Founding Director - Innes Associates
Paul Bell, Partner - Ryder Architecture



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