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Secondary School in Liverpool

Part 1 Project 2008
Sean Peel
University of Liverpool, UK
Striated and smooth space, order and resistance to order, the gridded and the fluid, these conditions always co-exist in a state of confliction.

The main conceptual drivers for this project are the theories of the smooth and the striated, taken from the text; A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Felix Guattari.

Through a succession of processes these theories of space have been explored in both two and three dimensions, constantly tied to a utilitarian discourse, architecture, as an interpretation of the conflicts in today’s educational system; itself a struggle between order and autonomy.

The project also explores the spatial definition of the ground, seen not as a boundary, but as a surface that can be subverted and inhabited, as a component that seeks to striate but can be made liquid. The Underground component of the school houses the science laboratories, this is done to utilise the ground's ability to keep a constant temperature and light intensity, fluctuations of which can destroy experiments.

This informed approach, and experimentation, results in a fluid-folded form, with external surfaces becoming internal and vice-versa, forming continuous surfaces, housing uninterrupted, multi-directional spaces, fitting to the program of requirements for a school.

Sean Peel

The result of a reading of Deleuze and Guattari, this project explores the ubiquitous contradiction between smooth and striated space in the context of school design. Schooling attempts to impose order on society through education while, at the same time, educational methods and policies shift constantly. The analogy goes further: a school building represents fixity and order (striation) through its own physicality while teachers, students, utensils and knowledge continually flow (smooth); some periodically, some unpredictably.

A series of explorations -an installation, numerous tentative drawings and various models- led to the production of an exciting building that challenges prescribed ideas of what a school is and how it looks.

The proposed building subverts the horizontality characteristic of most schools by developing continually changing levels including a number of underground laboratories which benefit from constant climatic conditions. The building occupies the entire park on which it sits and introduces different sets of activities to each part. The functions required by the programme are unusually interconnected so that it multiplies the ways in which users can appropriate the school and adapt it both to periodical and unpredictable changes.

In sum this is a very interesting project which raises questions about current trends in school design in the United Kingdom.

Dr Felipe Hernandez
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