Flexi-Ed: Enhancing education through flexible form
As cities evolve, change and grow, the need and desire for adaptable architecture becomes evident across the nation. Architecture needs to undertake techniques that are flexible in order to adapt and align with the development of future generations in New Zealand. The Education industry is a primary example of a sector which requires flexibility within both classroom architectural form and interior configuration. This is a resultant of the recently updated Ministry of Education requirements; which state that every new classroom built or renovated nationwide, must implement the MoE classroom design standards for Innovative Learning Environments. ILE teaching spaces are configured as an open plan interior, supporting flexibility in classroom arrangement and teaching techniques. ILE classrooms are capable of evolving and adapting as educational practices evolve and change, allowing schools to remain modern and future focused. As part of this movement to ILE, the Ministry of Education has also recently made an attempt to improve the quality of temporary classrooms. This has been done by looking into the initiation of a programme that utilizes relocatable classroom buildings. Relocatable classrooms have been selected for multiple reasons, primarily flexibility. Flexibility is key for a school environment as it allows the school to actively respond to fluctuating school rolls. It is anticipated that the programme will provide a faster delivery process with a standardised design that allows the classrooms to be relocated from one school to another with relative ease. Following the devastating February 2011 earthquake the Greater Christchurch Region, the Education sector is in the midst of the Canterbury Schools Rebuild Programme. As a repercussion of this natural disaster, the majority of Christchurch schools have redevelopment or rebuild projects in progress, with preliminary design phases already in action for a small group of select schools regarded as high priority. The primary funding for these projects are sourced from insurance money, implementing tight budget restrictions, affecting the architectural design, quality and speed of the construction and repair works. The available funding limits the affordable classroom options to basic teaching spaces that have been stripped back to simple architectural forms, dictating not only the re-design, but also how our future generations will learn. Thus causing the development of the new student-led learning ILE concept to become controlled by existing construction techniques and the Rebuild Programmes budget restrictions. This thesis focuses on the future proofing of New Zealand schools by providing an affordable and time efficient alternative option to the current static, traditional construction, an option that has the ability to cater to the unpredictable fluctuating school rolls across the nation. This has been done by developing a prefabricated system for standalone classroom blocks. These blocks have the ability to be relocated between different school sites, dynamically catering to the unpredictable school roll numbers experienced across New Zealand. This site flexibility is reflected with the interior flexibility in the classrooms, enhancing the internal teaching space composition and challenges the existing design standards set by the Ministry of Education for Innovative Learning Environments. This system is called “Flexi-Ed”. Flexibility has been a key driver for this thesis, as the prefabricated structure is have to be flexible in three ways; first in the sense of being easy to assemble and disassemble. Second by offering flexible interior learning environments and thirdly the joints of the structure are designed with the ability to be flexible in order to cope with seismic activity. These three principles will provide schools with long term flexibility, minimal on-site interruption and heighten the standard of ILE across the nation. I strive to provide schools with long term flexibility and minimal site interruption, whilst heightening the standard of Innovative Learning Environments across New Zealand.