We recently came across a very interesting article. We are pleased to share some extracts from the paper, ‘The NSW demountable classroom: an analytical study to improve this radical building solution for education’ written by Ben Slee and Richard Hyde from the University of Sydney.
The NSW demountable classroom continues to fulfil the function it was designed to fulfil and is radical because, unusually, it has always been capable of adaption. However in recent years aspects of the system have become obsolete. The technology exists to adapt it and turn it into a high performance building typology. This paper adopts a qualitative methodology based on the Building PerformanceResearch Unit’s (BPRU) concept of buildings as a series of open systems. Using contemporary documentary evidence, open ended structured interviews and detailed physical inspections the first part of the paper shows that the demountable classroom has played and continues to fulfil an important and significant role in the provision of teaching accommodation across the state as it was originally designed to do. The second part of the paper considers the changing perception of the demountable classroom in the context of the concept of obsolescence. The paper concludes by showing that the demountable classroom was and remains a radical building solution, that is mistakenly maligned, and offers the communities and government of New South Wales an opportunity to develop a high performance, adaptable and low carbon piece of education infrastructure.
Slee and Hyde continue to remark about the unique way demountable learning spaces are able to adapt to teaching styles, in ways that traditional buildings hadn’t been able.
‘Pedagogy (teaching) has also changed significantly since the demountable school was originally introduced from a “chalk and talk” approach, led by a teacher instructing pupils sitting in rows, to a student led approach to learning that requires “break out” spaces for group work and more traditional class arrangements for instruction. The development of pedagogy has led to the need for larger more flexible classrooms to accommodate the new teaching methods.’
R.H. Crawford and A. Stephan (eds.), Living and Learning: Research for a Better Built Environment: 49th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association 2015, pp.85–99. ©2015, The Architectural Science Association and The University of Melbourne.