Learning environments are constantly evolving to stay in stride with the world around us. The factors that influence how and where we choose to educate our future generation are many. With the pace of the world’s technological innovation, and the increasing level of convenience and distraction it provides, there is a realistic concern that people, kids especially, risk losing a tangible connection and respect for the natural world. As a landscape architect, being asked to shape an educational environment, the first responsibility is to create a healthy, safe and inspirational setting. Secondly, it is an opportunity to bring the natural world out of the background, and back into focus in a fun and inspiring way.
Dandenong Education Precinct is ground-breaking project which involved the amalgamation of three existing secondary schools using an innovative new educational model. The school of 2100 students is organized into seven individual SWIS (Schools Within a School) buildings. The SWIS philosophy is centered on creating intimate, interpersonal learning environments within a larger overall school campus. Each individual school houses 300 students, has its own staffroom, teaching facilities and corresponding outdoor , or “home area”. At a broader level, each of the seven buildings have been carefully integrated around a central communal space which facilitates flexible use by all teachers and students. The project, which has been widely applauded and publicized, was completed in 2011. A future stage which includes shared arts and sports facilities is also planned.
Grontmij announced that work has commenced on the Crouch Hill Park and Ashmount Primary School development, in the London Borough of Islington.
The Crouch Hill development is a highly sensitive scheme and comprises Metropolitan Open Land, a Site of Metropolitan Significance for Nature Conservation and a local park. The site is adjacent to the Parkland Walk, a disused railway and a popular North London walking route between Finsbury Park and Highgate.
A new central green space will give the public access to out-of-hours community activities in the school including, a shared games court. New paths will link local housing and the Parkland Walk to attract visitors and improve safety. The whole site will become more permeable and accessible, with easy-access routes for wheelchairs, young children and parents with pushchairs. Paths through existing trees are designed as raised boardwalks, to ‘tread lightly’ through the site and a sensitive lighting strategy will improve community safety in key areas, while respecting bat foraging corridors.
The Utah State University’s Board of Trustees,announced recently that the university’s Department of Landscape and Environmental Planning will become part of the College of Agriculture, strengthening both the department and college’s commitments to sustainable development.
The change, which will occur July 1, is part of strategic restructuring in the LAEP department’s current administrative home, the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, which is being divided into a college that includes the humanities and social sciences and a new Caine College of the Arts. As part of that split, USU President Stan Albrecht gave the LAEP department faculty and administrators a unique opportunity to evaluate the department’s plans and goals and consider which college could best support them.
ETH Zurich, a Swiss University and the National Research Foundation of Singapore have signed an agreement for the “Future Cities Laboratory”. This set the seal on the structure of the new platform for urban development in Singapore.
In this project, it is collaborating closely with scientists from the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. An agreement was signed in Singapore on 19 March 2010 forms an important link between the NRF and ETH Zurich as they build up their joint research activities. The plan is for the interdisciplinary research platform for sustainable urban development in Singapore to be staffed by September 2010.
The research focuses on three key scales: sustainable building technologies, the city as an urban system, and the relationship between urban and rural environments. The new strategy of the “Future Cities Laboratory” consists of combining these key points in an appropriate way and researching their interactions. The architects, planners and scientists see and design the city as a dynamic system in which people interact and in which resources such as energy, water, space, capital, materials or information are constantly in flux.