Inspirations - Building Sights

A photo of the eco classroom

The new wood based building at Lanlivery Primary School

What the resource is:
The resource is a Teachers TV video that records the design and construction of a new classroom for a rural primary school considering the local environment, issues of sustainability and cost in its development.

The video tracks the processes involved in the innovative approach to the designing and making of a new classroom for Lanlivery Primary School, Cornwall. The Head teacher, Chair of Governors and other stakeholders provide a commentary describing how the initial need for a new classroom arose from the problems of rising numbers and the physical constraints of the existing Victorian buildings. An OfSTED report commenting on the cramped learning environment provided further impetus for development.

The video shows how hazy initial ideas gradually developed into the realisation of an innovative new classroom. It subsequently attracted international attention, due to environmental and sustainability issues being key features of the specification. So successful was the design that it won the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Sustainability Award in 2004.

The commentary also emphasises the time, effort and dedication required to see the project from inception to completion and the way in which the whole community, including the pupils, collaborated in the process.

The title of the resource ("Building Sights") suggests the ideas of thinking creatively and taking risks, instead of addressing the problem in more conventional ways or not at all, and these concepts are clearly illustrated.



The aims of the resource:
The resource aims to show the logistics and problems involved in the design and construction of a new classroom that needed to be:

  • economically feasible
  • environmentally sound with sustainable features
  • a solution to the problem of lack of space
  • an environment that the pupils and staff would enjoy working in.


Key findings or focus:
The video outlines the rationale behind the creation of the new classroom and clearly shows the various processes and pitfalls encountered by those involved.

Notable features of the video include:

  • the participation of the pupils in the designing
  • the way in which the project contributed to cross-curricular activities
  • how environmental issues and sustainability led to key design decisions
  • the collaboration of many members of the school and village community
  • an illustration of the process of designing and making in a real situation
  • how, from simple beginnings, the outcome became an example of innovative classroom architecture recognised internationally.


The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE: 
This is a well produced video that illustrates the way in which a real design problem was tackled, ultimately producing a building that is fit for purpose. It is also a useful illustration of the need for collaboration in a project with each team member playing an important part in the development.


The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact:
This resource may be of use to tutors when considering whole school issues, especially those related to sustainability or the learning environment, as it shows how a well designed classroom environment has a positive benefit to those who work within it. 

It would also be useful for design and technology tutors who wish to illustrate the following aspects of real projects in action:

  • Systems and processes - the design process
  • Environment - design and layout of the school
  • Communication - between school and community
  • Products and Services - accessing services to the school.


The relevance to ITE students - how and why it has importance:
All students will find the video useful in terms of sustainability issues and ‘Sustainable Schools' initiatives but may be of particular interest to those studying design and technology.

The cross-curricular learning that can be achieved by focusing on issues directly experienced by the pupils is also of importance.



Reviewed by:
Carolyn Chalkley