In 2003 we were furiously working on design and construction solutions for various primary and secondary schools when Jane’s second child, Tess, was born. As Jane seemed, inexplicably, unable to get to the office at that time Jenny determined that the appropriate course of action was to bring numerous project files into the labour ward. It was a somewhat strange and slightly humorous experience with Jane sitting up in a hospital bed with a newborn on her chest and architectural plans on her lap. It certainly made both of us realise that being a mother definitely wasn’t a barrier to doing quality work or running our practice, which was really starting to buzz.
That year Jenny (parent to Harry, now 6) largely ran the office with the help of Seona, Chris and Giles. It was a jam packed year that relied on strong teamwork, which we have always been good at maintaining, so we got through unscathed.
2003 was also the year that computers first made their way into classroom spaces. The “computer pod” emerged as the “contemporary” solution to integrating information technology into the curriculum. It is amazing how quickly information technology has changed the way we think about teaching and learning spaces. We have now moved from the “pod” to anywhere, anytime access to technology. Spaces are planned to be flexible, technology wireless and student-learning centred. Only ten years ago, classrooms would be considered cutting edge if they had a couple of desktops in the corner. The computer pod was thought necessary to house these expensive and temperamental pieces of equipment. Now we have 1:1 devices, virtual classrooms, e-books and online homework forums.
It was sometime in our 3rd year that we realised how much we thrived on educational space design and that we wanted to become serious players in that arena. That was a bit of a turning point for Minx because it enabled us to build our practice around this one field of expertise, which has meant we have had to turn down some pretty appealing residential and commercial opportunities along the way, however 15 years on we very still glad we did.
The challenge for education space designers is to understand how information technology will change the spaces in which students learn in the future, we’re certainly fixed on being at the forefront of it this evolution for many years to come.