Versatile design; lessons from the road
9 June 2023
During my recent sabbatical travelling to South America, I lived out of one ‘hand luggage sized’ rucksack and, for a period of about four weeks, lived in a tiny campervan travelling north through Patagonia.
Aside from the various cleanliness issues that arise from a life on the road (glacial river baths... the less said about that the better), there were actually many lessons learnt on the principles of prioritising space & versatile design that I feel are applicable to architecture, specifically in my field of designing schools.
With only space for one pair of shoes for six-months (don’t worry, they are now safely retired where they can’t infect the wider population), my footwear had to be chosen very carefully to suit any situation: hiking a mountain, going to a restaurant, walking a beach. School architecture must be flexible in its function to suit many uses of the building: day-to-day school use by pupils, wider community use for out of hours sports, performances or parent days, and of course, use by the staff.
Storage is important in a campervan, and essential in school design. Life on the road taught me that all the storage in the world is completely useless if it is not located in a sensible or accessible place (unpacking the entire van to find tools to change a tyre is a particularly harrowing memory). Designing storage spaces in education architecture is a careful balance of utilising parts of the building with no natural light, with distributing stores in the most useful locations to complement the curriculum.
Pozzoni has a dedicated team which specialises in designing a variety of education facilities. From new build large high schools for the Department for Education, to bespoke independent school projects in heritage settings. Take a look at our latest projects here.
You can read part 1 of my story 'Design influences around the world' here.