Sustainable Schools

Championing the environmental, social and educational benefit of well-designed schools.

The Architecture Centre has a long track record of promoting well-designed schools, with a strong emphasis on encouraging sustainability and meaningful stakeholder engagement in the design process.

Examples of our Sustainable Schools programming include:

Spring Green 2011: Sustainable Schools

In 2011 the Centre programmed a season that focused on low carbon and sustainable schools and how the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) impacted on design, behaviour and management. The Sustainable Schools season included:

  • Sustainable Schools Debate: chaired by Peter Clegg (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios), with a panel including William Scott (University of Bath), Mike Entwisle (Buro Happold), Paul Isbell (Bristol City Council) and David Noble (dm3 architecture).
  • Sustainable Schools Conference: for school staff and governors to discuss how to energise school communities to cut carbon costs. The conference was in partnership with Bristol Futures, Bristol City Council and the Bristol Sustainable Schools Partnership.
  • Sustainable Schools Exhibition: showcasing exemplar school design and investigating sustainable construction, maintenance and refurbishment.
  • Talks programme: with practices leading in the field including White Design, Architype and Feilden Clegg Bradley.
  • St Lukes School by Architype

  • St Lukes School by Architype

Shaping Schools: Designing for the future

In 2013 the Architecture Centre hosted a cross-sector debate responding to the acute shortage of primary school places and resulting high demand for ‘quick fix’ design. Keen to ensure sustainable and quality design did not ‘drop off the agenda’ the debate brought inspiring speakers to look at long-term gain design. The expert panel included: Cindy Walters (Walters and Cohen), Craig White (White Design), Juno Hollyhock and Merrick Denton Thompson (Learning through Landscapes), Caroline Paradise (Nightingale Associates/HEAD project), Ian Bell (Bristol City Council), Justin Hoye (Head teacher, St John’s Primary School), Charles Wilson (Bristol Urban Design Forum) as chair.

School Design Stakeholder Engagement

As part of the Architecture Centre’s commitment to involving end users in the design process of the buildings that affect their lives, we spent many years working with pupils, teachers and parents on stakeholder engagement projects linked to the national Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Over several years the centre worked in collaboration with the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset projects to support the establishment of a panel of student BSF Expert Clients. Through their involvement in workshops, visits and interactions with built environment professionals the participants developed expertise in public art, landscaping, design quality and sustainability, which enabled them to effectively participate in design decision making on their new school buildings.

The Architecture Centre played a significant role in developing the young expert client group, a key element of Somerset’s award-winning BSF student engagement process. The centre has provided valuable support to our schools and involved pupils in the design of new schools buildings in a meaningful way.”

Julie Walker, Project Director for Learning and Development (Bridgwater), Somerset County Council.


Spring Green 2011 was kindly supported by Willmott Dixon.  The 2011 Conference and Debate were supported by Bristol City Council.

Shaping Schools in 2013 was funded by the ESRC as part of the 2013 Festival of Social Science.