LLV Life (Part 2): Enabling a bold idea for education

Traditional schooling models, characterised by cellular classrooms and ‘chalk and talk’, have been prominent since the Industrial era. Although there’s been much discussion around the need to evolve this model to one which is more engaging and relevant for today’s students, from the limited number of schools that have successfully shifted from conventional structures, it is evident how difficult this is to do. Fiona Young and Meredith Ash share the unique story of the Lindfield Learning Village.

Image courtesy of Lindfield Learning Village.

Lindfield Learning Village (LLV) in Sydney, Australia, is an innovative  K-12 public school which challenges traditional educational approaches whilst demonstrating excellence in practice and outcomes. Located 20 minutes from the CBD, in an iconic neo brutalist building fringed by the Ku-ring-gai national park , the school opened in 2019. Its unique educational model, based on stage-not-age, student-centred and real world interdisciplinary learning, has attracted widespread interest with wait-lists of up to 2500 students.

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LLV Life (Part 1): A student’s perspective

Lindfield Learning Village is a progressive new K-12 comprehensive school located at the former Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education site in Sydney, Australia. The school has attracted widespread interest for its innovative approach to education and is one of the three schools profiled in the recent documentary New School, which presents the challenges of 21st-century education and explores the importance of design in generating productive responses. Although students are one of the primary users of schools, they rarely have the opportunity to contribute to or provide feedback on the design of their learning environments. This guest blog offers a perspective from a Stage 3 student who recently joined Lindfield Learning Village.  

Lindfield Learning Village is located on the site of the former William Balmain Teachers College (Sydney, Australia) which originally opened in 1971. It later became the Ku-ring-gai College of Advanced Education followed by the University of Technology Sydney, before being acquired by the NSW Department of Education in 2014.


This year I started at a new school, Lindfield Learning Village. Now it wasn’t all sunshine☀️ and rainbows🌈 but I got there in the end. LLV is the most hands-on school I know and I like that about it.

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Briefing against risk (Part 2)

In Part 1, Simon Foxell discussed the need to refocus our approach to projects and our professional duty to discover whether the briefing we deliver is effective and results in the intended outcomes in countering risk. Here, he addresses how we need to respond to the challenges of concurrently managing demographic change and reversing damage to the environment in a joined-up way.

Image source: David Eccles

The temptation on the part of governments faced with major challenges could well be a regulatory move to a rigid system with a limited number of solutions intended to deliver certainty. This represents the very antithesis of briefing, with its explorative and open-ended approach, configured to encourage innovation and bespoke solutions to individual problems. Voices may warn policymakers that rigid systems rarely succeed and, with a horse that has already bolted, a far more responsive approach is required; but the temptation to enact strict dirigiste measures may be overwhelming. Briefing urgently needs to develop an alternative to this that combines certainty on a range of outcomes, a relaxed approach to others; possibly including matters of zoning, style or privacy; with flexibility on how they can and should be delivered. Outcome-based briefing and specification is, of course, not new, but the imperative to make it work is that much greater.

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Briefing against risk (Part 1)

In this two-part guest blog, Simon Foxell discusses the challenges of briefing in the context of risk and uncertainty and the need to address concurrent issues of managing demographic change and reversing environmental damage.

Image source: Birdman photos

We live in a risky and increasingly, riskier, world, or at least a world where we are much more aware of risk than ever before and tend to employ avoidance strategies of numerous sorts. That such strategies rarely address real risks and prefer to focus on perceived ones with their, now familiar – but apparently almost impossible to contain, cognitive biases shouldn’t obscure the need to factor in real future risks. Briefing is, amongst other things, a matter of effectively, and with the right tools, projecting rationally into the future, describing its needs and dangers and flagging up possible ways of dealing with them. It is a means of coping with uncertainty by gathering and interpreting information that reduces that uncertainty. It attempts to mitigate risk: to the project, but also to the wider context – social and environmental – and much else beyond.

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Curtains

Stories of struggles to make technology work are unending.  As long as there are technological developments, whether a book, an overhead projector, video conferencing or buildings equipped with complex automated systems which call for re-humanizing architecture, such stories will continue while the actor playing the role of the technology changes. Picking up on Adrian Leaman‘s earlier blog on the five most important things to think about in architectural briefing, Sam Cassels illustrates the plight of the nervous presenter confronted with an overhead projector.

Illustration by Felix Saw

Eventually, from behind the rustling stage curtains a bewildered head appeared at floor level.  Like a convict emerging from the wrong tunnel.  The small figure extracted himself on all fours from the clutches of the heavy drapes and then quickly leapt to his feet, and smiled at the invited audience as if he had just sauntered on after the now distant introduction.

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Developing a body of knowledge

Our 7th sounding panel session connected participants from across Australia and the USA to explore how tertiary and workplace learning can lead to new ways of practice and how emerging forms of practice can inform design education.

Although participants trajectories toward integrative briefing practices were diverse, characteristic of many formative experiences were opportunities beyond traditional architectural training and practice. Some participants had worked in other design and creative fields, such as set design, curatorship and exhibition design, exposing them to a range of other types of people, professions and practices. Working with mentors such as Mary Featherston, Frank Duffy, Shirley Dugdale, James Calder and John Worthington featured strongly in helping people learn about briefing in practice.

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To Share or Not to Share

Jacques Chevrant reflects on the need for the Architecture, Environment & Construction Industry to look outwards and learn from other industries to better engage with innovation and knowledge sharing to ensure long-term sustainability.

Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Corporate_greed_octopus.jpg

Reflecting upon the competitive nature of the Architecture, Environment & Construction Industry (AEC), the for-profit organisation residing within has increasingly behaved like a silo. Intellectual property amidst innovation is closely guarded, used as a tool for maximising competitive advantage.

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You have to be there

In our July Sounding Panel session on Transformative Design, Adrian Leaman reiterated the five most important things to think about in architectural briefing…

The next time you see Sam Cassels – and it ideally it should be in person – get him to tell you the story of the nervous presenter confronted with an overhead projector, and baffled by the way it worked, so that every time he tried to say something he stood in front of the projected light image, thereby blocking the projection, thus preventing the audience from having any clue of what he was talking about. Which made him even more jittery and incomprehensible. The presenter should have followed Michael Caine’s advice to young actors: don’t blink, it makes you look weak.  

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Soft-skills is the key

Raymond Young discusses the importance of soft-skills for project management and invites us to participate in research contributing to the development of a tool to assess soft-skills required for project success.

Our conception of a project is probably flawed. I came across Figure 1 in a project management textbook and thought to myself, “that’s not the way it really happens”. Figure 1 gives the impression that each stage of a project takes roughly the same length of time when in fact initiation of a project can take many years (while people think about what they actually want) and realising the benefits should be as long as possible. The problem with Figure 1 is that it is a project manager’s view of the world – the focus is on planning, development and implementation.

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