Whole School Spatial Audit
The project team used ethnographic techniques to gain insights into the current usage of the spaces around the school.
This is more relevant to schools undergoing some degree of refurbishment than new build schools, but nonetheless some useful insights about behaviour can be gained.
These insights were gained in two ways:
Observation tour: a member of the design team (either an architect, interior designer or space planner) sometimes accompanied by an educationalist, would do a walk around of the school, immersing themselves and spending time watching for patterns.
Interviews: informed by the observation tour, interviews would be conducted by the team with a good cross selection of stakeholders from staff and students.
Each of our pilot teams conducted this stage in a slightly different fashion, but in general we looked to gain input and insights on the following themes:
a. Types of spaces - what does the school currently have, what kind of group sizes are they for? Are there informal learning spaces as well as formal?
b. Performance of spaces - what is highly utilised and in demand (e.g. small meeting spaces), what is poorly utilised, and why?
c. Circulation - how does circulation in the school perform, and what issues are driving that performance (organisational as well as spatial). How do people move, from where to where, for how long? How are people getting around, what are the main obstacles to efficient circulation?
d. Behaviours - how people behave in space, what activities take place, how the spatial behaviours are linked with pedagogy
e. Interaction - incidence, length, location, nature of space, number of people, buzz, connectivity (in learning space, in support space, visitor entrance, corridors & staircases etc.), bottlenecks.
This data can be collected and summarised in a number of forms:
Textual - probably the least useful form of writeup for communicating insights, but good at expressing depth of information
Diagrammatic - useful for communicating ideas instantly
Storyboards - useful for demonstrating beahaviours
Images - useful for showing situations in spaces