Douglas Inglis, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands:
Wellbeing: as student and tutors return to higher education, a key thing to consider must be maximising the benefit of using those spaces. Social interaction has to be more positive.
Adaptability: things are changing rapidly, so buildings must be designed with absolute adaptability. And with increasing student numbers- UCL has increased its student intake by 8000 in a year – where are they going to be housed?
Ventilation: rethinking ventilation: psychologically people feel healthier in naturally ventilated spaces. UCL are asking if spaces can be naturally ventilated rather than mechanically ventilated.
Marta Galinanes-Garcia, AKTII:
Retrofit first: how many of London’s 3,250 existing schools can be retrofitted? Rather than construct wholesale new schools, consider refitting. This could have a big impact. Many schools could benefit from easy retrofit, we don’t do enough of it in schools.
Bruce Glockling, London Borough of Southwark:
Depopulation: Pupil enrolment in inner London boroughs is declining rapidly after years of demand; how do we attract families to live and grow in London? Are we creating the type of places that people in London want to live in or do they move away and find spaces for families? We are trying to build family council homes, but are we creating the right type of homes?
Judy Raper, CEO and Dean, TEDI-London:
Accessibility: Students can’t afford to come to university. Students are having to work at the same time to afford accommodation. Finding work which is suitable to their hours can be tough. We should provide more scholarships; perhaps make those available to key workers post-pandemic.
Student accommodation: Affordable accommodation is difficult to come by.
Rachel Moulton, HKS Architects Limited:
Sustainability: budget is lacking, we should have a London levy for sustainability, on top of the budget provided, to enable us to use materials that are sustainable and renewable. Someone in government needs to put pressure on insurance companies to accept timber as a viable form of construction.
External space: There needs to be more access to outdoor spaces in schools. Some free schools built without virtually any external space. Green spaces located away from highly polluted areas and achieve cleaner air in London. Also improve acoustics and wellbeing.
Angela Mitten, Royal College of Art:
Climate adaptation: what funding is available for applying sustainable measures to legacy buildings? There is not the same funding available for higher education buildings and adaption of existing estates.
Attracting staff back on campus: Staff communities have broken down in the pandemic, connections lost with colleagues. There is a need to build back the community spatially and build back interaction with students.
Neil Pinder, Graveney School:
Carbon/clean air: local authorities need to act quickly to improve air quality.
Curriculum: the way students are judged at primary school is via a test which doesn’t consider creativity vs academia, would like to see creativity being added to these tests. Progress 8 in secondary – a government initiative of eight academic subjects deemed to be the most important -excludes creative subjects because they are too expensive. They become limited to lunchtime clubs / after school. Solution: every single school pair up with a creative industry to add creativity back onto the curriculum.
Ann Dalzell, Arup:
Clean air: has to be at the top of the agenda! Net zero and decarbonising large London universities: make them natural ventilated and more comfortable. Mixed-mode ventilation solutions have to work on a traffic light system.
Accessibility: It can be a struggle to get kids interested and considering careers in the built environment. Get kids involved in what goes on behind the scenes. We’re engaging Yr5s and Yr6s early on so they can become involved in the conversations.
Ian Goodfellow, Penoyre & Prasad:
Post COP26 leadership: If leadership isn’t coming from government, universities can step up and make enormous differences to action sustainable campuses. A desire for better outside space with nature and landscapes.
Clean air / sustainable campuses: better controls of internal environment - links to mental health / isolation / community and social spaces. A survey revealed a desire for better outside spaces, biophilic spaces. How to make London a more liveable city?
We had an engaging discussion around a number of the priorities suggested.
Wellbeing and particularly air quality - so important in an educational setting inside and outside of buildings - was a recurring theme. Mat Oakley challenged how practical the desire for natural ventilation is if air quality is not currently suitable for it? This is an example of how priorities are often interlinked: if air quality improves city-wide, then the prospects of natural ventilation are much better. We also touched on complications with noise and acoustics of natural ventilation in a London context. Mat also proposed that a simple policy point for government would be that no educational institutions be allowed to sell off green spaces.
We talked about the accessibility of education, and the types of education offered. Neil Pinder highlighted that English education does not value apprenticeships like Europe does. He argued there is a need to champion more creative and technical education channels alongside apprenticeships. Ann Dalzell commented that BTEC’s have become devalued.
We touched on the mental health impact of Covid, with the majority of teachers’ mental health deteriorating over the pandemic. Angela Mitten talked about how the hybrid model of education is proving hard to make work. There is a need for consideration to be given to staff office accommodation to enable it.