Mankind is our Business

Client Advisers for London Borough of Camden BSF Programme

Our vast secondary schools are among the last Fordist institutions, where people in large numbers go at the same time, to work in the same place, to a centrally devised schedule announced by the sound of a bell.

Tracy Kidder, Among Schoolchildren (London 1991)

Our commitment as Client Design Advisors is to encourage real transformation of learning through actively challenging and discouraging reversion to familiar default models. Traditional limits distance architects from the political and moral responsibilities of their role by placing them in service to the visions of others. In our journey as partners in creating a new kind of school we have pushed the limits of our defined role to shape the vision and underlying organisational structures of a new school as well as its physical environment.

London Borough of Camden chose SCABAL as Client Design Advisor (CDA) for its BSF project, including two flagship Sample Schools on a site at Swiss Cottage. The project included a new 6FE Academy, specialising in Maths and Science and sponsored by UCL, which now provides 1150 secondary places, including 250 post 16. Co-located on the same site is the expanded Swiss Cottage Specialist SEN School, a 232 place all-through school for a full range of learning needs including PMLD, ASD and BESD.

SCABAL took up the mantel to articulate the design aspirations of the sponsor and Camden CSF, looking for identity, pedagogical models and design solutions that could define and meet their aspirations.

SCABAL’s briefing report and accommodation schedule formed the Design Brief, for each school, a key part of Camden’s Bidders’ package issued in June 2009.

We then supported Camden, Swiss Cottage School and UCL Academy through an intense Dialogue process to select a contractor and followed the projects through to completion in to use.

In this large project, as Client Advisers SCABAL have managed the delicate balance required to first attain the trust of a multi-headed client and then to support the consultant teams designing these large buildings, the builders building them and the occupants using them. We continue to be in contact with both schools and have worked on subsequent commissions for each and on other projects with LB Camden.

As well as the two sample schools, SCABAL also worked with three further Camden secondary schools to create Design Briefs for their futures, though these were shelved by the incoming Conservative government. Later we worked with Camden secondary schools, Parliament Hill and neighbouring William Ellis to refine their BSF briefs in preparation for a makeover funded directly by LBC.

Service: Client Advisers

Location: Camden, UK

Client: LB Camden, UCL

Cost: £249.8m (original) or £82.1m (actual)

Dates: 2008-2013

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