If one door shuts open another

07 alma-nac SSFSS School Gates

When covid struck Alma-nac was working with 8 schools to repurpose Dulwich Pavilion. That was paused but the firm realised it had something useful to offer

This is the time of year parents usually love – back to school after seven weeks of holiday. This year, of course, is significantly different because schools closed in March as part of the national lockdown. Over the past six months, headteachers and their staff have faced an unprecedented challenge planning the academic year and preparing a safe return to school for all their pupils amid a shifting landscape of government indecision and general anxiety.

My practice has been working with a range of schools over the past few years now. Earlier this year we were facilitating co-design workshops with pupils at a network of primary schools in Southwark to repurpose the Dulwich Picture Gallery pavilion, Colour Palace by Pricegore and Yinka Ilori, into playground planters. The project was paused but we remained in touch so we were very conscious of the challenges these schools faced as they explored the changes necessary to welcome back pupils to a safe environment.

As architects we can’t halt the virus through medical intervention but we can mitigate the confusion and anxiety around it by applying our expertise in design and communication to ensure that we maintain quality of life, while facilitating the necessary adjustments to a “new normal”.

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