Do your Buildings Convey who you are as a School?

What uniform are you wearing today?
Does it really matter how our students present themselves for school?
A tie, pulled up socks, a blazer, hat, track suit or board shorts?

Well yes and no! Schools will have very different policies around uniform, but they all will have given the matter considerable thought based on a range of processes and issues including…

  • Attitudes from the principal, the board, government or the parents
  • Pressure from parents and students
  • School traditions
  • Cultural norms or the area
  • The fees being charged

I observed a ‘by-line’ recently at a clothing store that described ‘Style’ as a way of communicating to others about who you are without speaking! I won’t continue on a topic that is way out of my line of expertise or aspirations but…

I have been working with both Independent, Catholic and State schools in the master planning and design of their school buildings for many years and I love what I do!

Our practice firmly believes that so many creative design opportunities are opened when we consider the spirit and culture of a school. We expend much energy in consulting with our schools to not only to understand the education brief and pedagogical requirements of the institution, but what makes the school community ‘tick’. What are the schools aspirations? How are they different? What defines them as a community? What is unique about the school’s location, topography, surrounding built environment? These are all design clues.

At Fulton Trotter Architects we believe the character and style of the built environment should ‘ooze’ these aesthetic qualities and reflect back to the school the very ideas they have put to the architect when they were commissioned for a new building or masterplan.

That’s why the characters (styles) of our school designs are so different and exciting. Every Fulton Trotter project is bespoke and reflects the diversity of our client base and the architects that have delivered the vision. We have not been caught up in our own view of style but have become chameleons and adopted the uniforms of wonderful school communities.

The response to this approach from our school clients has been overwhelmingly positive over the years and it is always a delight to see how our design work is embraced and owned by students and staff. It is our belief that the design of the built environment can be a powerful facilitator in the education process where it addresses practical pedagogical issues but reinforces the values and aspirations of the school.

This begs the question of other school communities – do your buildings convey a positive non-verbal message about who you are as school?

Paul Trotter
Director Fulton Trotter Architects
President Qld Chapter Australian Institute of Architects
Studio Leader – Final Year Design Masters of Architecture QUT

Photo: Faith Lutheran College – Humanities + Physical Education Centre | Credit: Alicia Taylor Photography