Pond Meadow School, Proposed Entrance Redevelopment
Pond Meadow was a fascinating project to work on. Not only was it the first live project I’d ever taken up, but it was also a brief where the client was multiple distinct groups of individuals, all with very different yet specific needs and requirements.
The scheme had to be presented to the client/representatives at the end in our first live display to people outside of the course. This came after a briefing at the school itself, in front of the students, in addition to a tour of the site and demonstration of their current teaching techniques.
Year of design:
Pond Meadow School
Pond Meadow School. Note the repeated, large, angular shapes. Inside the form playful areas of light, but outside they sometimes appear unmotivated.
To redevelop the front entrance and main foyer of Pond Meadow School, taking into account current issues of user functionality. My proposal entirely focusses on the front entrance element of the brief.
The school, Pond Meadow, is a state of the art special needs institution in Guildford. The school moved to its current building in 2008, designed newly for the school by DSDHA Architects. The new space emphasises space, light, and calmness, perfect for its user.
Photo Credit- DSDHA
On the subject of the users, the students are categorised into three main groups based on the severity or complexities of their disabilities. All groups require a lot of care, though one of the groups is bed-bound and necessitates full time active care.
All users filter through the main foyer and through the doors into buses waiting to drop off the students at their own homes, though issues arise from this as detailed later.
As mentioned before, users have to travel through the entrance and foyer in order to access the buses. The reverse is true for the mornings.
In both cases, the user journey is fragmented by one or two significant occurrences during this journey. The first, the interrupted journey of the students (detailed below). The second, the entrance disappears into the windows under most lighting conditions and becomes almost invisible to people searching for it; not even lines on the building or the floor appear to direct the user towards it.
The location in which redevelopment would take place is marked in red, note its proximity to the car park and exit, additionally its easterly orientation meaning the entrance is well-lit during morning drop-off.
Due to the student’s learning difficulties, certain users really struggle leaving the classroom. The process becomes too much for many of the students and they often find themselves having moments of intense emotion that stop them from leaving the building until they are directly intervened.
The entire process can last up to half an hour, slowing down the buses from getting other students home.
My proposal is to interject into the process of complication and intervention, replacing it with a process of contemplation for all of those involved, students, parents, carers, and teachers alike. The space should give the students and carers somewhere to sit and relax during the movement phase, especially during ‘Complications’.
By providing a calm and reassuring environment for users to sit, the process of leaving the school will be sped up massively.