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UK: Grading on Curved Designs

Friday, November 2, 2012

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Architects and builders looking to win contracts for new school buildings across the Pond will have to abandon any thoughts of grandiose designs—or for that matter, curves.

New government regulations call for the next generation of schools in the United Kingdom to be small and cheap—"no frills," as The Guardian puts it.

Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy
Stephen Richards / WikiMedia Commons

Designs like Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy in London feature newly banned elements, including curves.

Curvilinear designs, translucent plastic roofs, and glazed walls are all banned elements, according to the new guidelines.

A zig-zag steel and glass award-winning design like Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy in London, for example, would have been squelched under the new restrictions.

'Wasteful Extravagance'

The UK government says it wants to “crack down on what it believes to be wasteful extravagance in educational architecture,” according to The Guardian.

Under the previous government regime, a reported $88.7 billion was spent on educational architecture through the Building Schools for the Future program. The current government’s new five-year program seeks to replace 261 primary and secondary schools for just $4.5 billion, reports say.

Smaller school initiative in UK
Replacement schools will be sans curves, according to new restrictions.

Design templates posted on the government's website direct that the "new schools should have 'no curves or faceted' curves,' corners should be square, and ceilings should be left bare. Moreover, the cladding should be nothing more expensive than "render or metal panels above head height," according to reports.

Opposition to 'No Curves' Approach

Numerous architects, organizations, school officials and others have spoken out against the program and its bare-bones design templates that are to be used as guidance.

Many are worried about space constraints and the energy efficiency of the designs.

Starchitect Hadid  has said school design is of signficant importance.

"Schools are among the first examples of architecture that everyone experiences and have a profound impact on all children as they group up," she said.

But, Michael Gove, UK's education secretary, remains steadfast in the decision to cut costs.

“We won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school, we won’t be getting any award-winning architects to design it, because no one in this room is here to make architects richer,” Gove reportedly said at a school conference.

So, what do you think?  Curves or no curves?


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Building design; Color; Design; Modernist architecture; Regulations

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