Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Projects come to life...

It's always good when a project I've worked on come to fruition.  It's been some time when, as Strategic Advisor to the Minister of Education of the Cayman Islands, we started the transformation process of the education system, including the design of new state of the art high schools.  With lots of work done, I moved on to my current exciting life used in the UK.
Despite the world recession, contractor issues, a change of government and the complexities of building a 'hurricane proof' building, the first school is getting near to completion.  When it does open it will be a significant point for high school education in Cayman.
They are just fab 'school within school' buildings with a variety of different and agile spaces.  We worked closely with Professor Stephen Heppell on the concept and architects Trung Le (Cannon Design - formerly oWp/p) and Rick Dewar (formerly Cannon Design, Chicago).  These sensational buildings will be very much a talking point for the regions schools designers as well as visitors from all over the world.  They have been much talked about projects internationally.  
I just hope that they work as well as we hoped during the design process.  Who knows, I may even visit it some time - I really hope so! 


Steve Geraghty said...

Never had the pleasure of meeting you but would like to add a couple of additions to the blog. The project has changed somewhat since your involvement and whilst I applaud the design concepts in the planning stages, I am surprised the small matter of context did not arise in discussions.

As Principal tasked with establishing the new Clifton Hunter High School and preparing for the move to the new build, many changes to the original design have been necessary.Teaching and learning ideology must necessarily be tempered by contextual considerations;in this case, learning spaces have been established by wall/partition additions and sound proofing installed.

Perhaps, the original vision of open space learning will be realised in the future but, for now, staff and students require an intermediate stage in their teaching and learning development. That is not to say I don't applaud the ideological sentiment behind the original design.
Steve Geraghty

Gareth Long said...

Hi Steve

Thanks so much for the comments.

I understand them totally but also think that after eight years in Cayman over three visits there was lots of context, but also lots of aspiration and ambition for young people and their learning.

Were we too ambitious? I don't think so, but I totally agree that it was always going to be a challenging journey in the timescales we were considering and one requiring total buy in at every level and lots of ongoing professional development and community trust.

Even with the changes - the campus and buildings will be fab and so much better than existing infrastructure.

I wish you absolute best wishes for the exciting times ahead!


Anonymous said...

It's a pity someone in Knowsley Education (UK) didn't think of "context" in 2007. Maybe they did but were shouted down for negativity.
I agree that there may be a place for open space learning in the future but Knowsley should also have gone for an intermediate stage. They might not be in the situation they are now.