This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol3", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
School planning' is a branch of an architect's work to which a very large amount of attention has been given during the last half century, and at the present time elaborate regulations exist upon the matter, drawn up by the Board of Education, as epitomised in the last chapter. With these it is always necessary to comply in cases of schools which are in any way supported by public funds, and although it is possible to do so in many different ways, yet the fact of the existence of the regulations has gradually led to the development of certain distinct types of plan. Of these there are two which are in general use, smaller schools being planned as a general rule on the Corridor System, and larger schools on the Hall System. The division between small and large schools is generally drawn at about 300 scholars.
B C. Andrew M.S.A. Architect St Austell. Cornwall.
It is usual to divide a school into separate departments for boys, girls, and infants, the smaller schools as a rule having these departments in separate buildings, except that the infants are often found in close attachment to the girls, it being permissible to consider "girls "and "infants" as a single department. Where more than one department exists in the same building they are kept perfectly distinct, with different entrances and exits, and different playgrounds, mixing only in the general schoolroom in quite small schools.
A school of almost the smallest type is that designed by Mr. B. C. Andrew for Lanivet, near Bodmin (see Fig. 1). This is planned as a mixed school for 120 scholars, and is upon the corridor system. There is a separate entrance for boys, and a combined entrance for girls and infants, in each case through a lobby out of which a cloakroom opens with a few lavatory basins in it. Admission is given from the entrance lobby to a top-lighted corridor, and from this three rooms are entered, one being the general schoolroom, one a classroom, and the other an infants' room. Boys and girls are taught together in all three rooms, and provision is made for four teachers in all. It will be noticed that the regulations have been carefully complied with, and the school is so placed that sunlight enters all the rooms during the morning hours, for all have windows to the south-east. The schoolroom and infants' room also have windows to the north-west, besides smaller windows for ventilation near the ceiling on their longer sides. These, however, are not taken into account for lighting the desks, all of which are so placed as to be lit from either left or right hand, and generally from the left. In each case, too, there is, behind the teacher's desk, a blank piece of wall, on which a blackboard can be fixed in such a position that it would be well lighted and could be seen by all the pupils. The schoolroom and classroom communicate, but the infants' room, in accordance with regulations, is entirely distinct, so that no noise could penetrate from it to either of the other rooms. As each room opens into the corridor there is no need for the students to pass through one room to reach another, this being expressly forbidden. The spacing of the desks, with passage ways, and gangways between the rows, enables the work of every child to be properly supervised, and it is usual for the desks to be placed upon platforms, the front row only being on the floor level, and the back rows gradually rising a step at a time.
In a small school of this sort there would be no special system of ventilation, save by ordinary air inlets and an exhaust in the roof, while heating would be by means of ordinary fires.
It will be noticed that the outline of the plan is one of perfect simplicity, and that, while the eaves are kept low, sufficient height for the windows is obtained by means of dormers. The position of the coal store and the provision of a cupboard may be noticed as minor conveniences, while the entrances, though narrow, are so contrived that no draught enters. The corridor of the school is thereby kept warm in winter time.
A somewhat larger school, to accommodate 200 students, is that at St. Denis (see Fig. 2), designed by the same architect, again as a mixed school for boys, girls, and infants. In this case the schoolroom has accommodation for no less than 96 pupils. It is divisible into two for teaching purposes by means of a sliding partition. As one result of this the corridor is of greater length than at Lanivet, and better arrangement of the cloakroom has been possible, the entrance being without turn from porch to corridor, while there are two doorways without doors to each of the cloakrooms. The coals are again reached under cover, but in this case open out of the boys' cloakroom, from which a small piece has also been taken as a store. The schoolroom is 60 feet long and is lighted on three sides, so that some of the desks are necessarily back lighted. As in the previous case, both this and the classroom are intended to accommodate boys and girls, but there is a difference in the arrangement of the infants' room, which has a babies' room opening out of it. This is permissible, as the two are considered to belong to one another, though it is against the strict letter of the regulations that any room should be a passage room to any other. The corridor is top lighted, and is 10 feet wide. The elevation shows that the building is to be erected on a hillside, but in spite of this the floor has been kept quite level, and consequently lies below the ground at the upper part of the hill ; and of course it is necessary to make special provision in such a case against the penetration of damp. In both these examples it has been possible to plan with extreme simplicity and directness, and to provide plenty of light to every room, so that it falls as a general rule in the best direction on to the desks. The principal windows give side lighting in each case, though supplementary lighting is at times obtained behind the backs of the pupils, not only in the schoolroom, as already referred to, but in all the other rooms also.