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Title: Children's relationships with their physical school: Considerations of primary architecture and furniture design in a social and cultural context
Authors: Cullis, Robert Ian
Advisors: Jones, L
Meredith, C
Keywords: School architecture;Furniture design;Primary school environment;Children's well-being;Child-teacher centred design;Inclusion
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: In recent years substantial investment has been made to replace or refurbish state schools in England and Wales and, although research has unsuccessfully sought to prove its contribution, the discipline of Design continues to be identified as a facilitator of educational transformation. Results to date, however, are mixed and there is an evident failing at the design briefing stage to understand how children interact with their educational settings and, notably, an avoidance of direct challenge to the primary school classroom and its practice. In response, this thesis asks how the social and cultural study of children’s relationships with their physical school can suggest a meaningful approach to primary school architecture and furniture design. A model of well-being is developed to clarify misused terminology and to present a realistic expectation of design in which the contradictory goals of inclusion and the development of the individual are appraised. Sitting within a diverse grounded methodology, the concept of belonging is then explored as a basis for evaluating the contribution of different aspects of the physical school to children’s well-being. The primary school environments studied were found to limit the possibilities of a child’s well-being. School architecture through to classroom wall displays were complicit in restricting physical and social expression in favour of school organisation and, furthermore, the central child-teacher relationship was found to be unnecessarily devalued by behavioural concerns derived from the setting. By ethically interpreting the rich variety of children’s voices, priorities for what is coined here as child-teacher centred design are established and a clear relationship between architecture and furniture is offered. The thesis recommends that architecture continues to perform a protective classroom role to support objectives of inclusion whilst school furniture supports more affective, individualistic goals through less prescriptive and more varied settings for learning.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University on behalf of Buckinghamshire New University.
Appears in Collections:Brunel University Theses

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