SPACE INVADERS (SCHOOLS EDITION)

Client: Arts Depot
Location: Barnet, London
Status: Completed 2018
Sponsors: The Happold Foundation and The Ove Arup Foundation
Photography: Bobbin Productions

Introduction

Space Invaders is a collaborative project between NEON and five schools in London. The project gave a group of students in each school £1000 with the purpose of making a change to their school environments. This project provided the students a chance to critique their everyday school environments and then allowed them to become agents for change through a physical intervention. NEON supported and facilitated this activity through 4 workshops in each school, each was framed around a different stage in the design process.

The Hyde School - The students of The Hyde School felt their lunch hall was the space that was most in a need of change. The space was used for sports, assemblies and plays as well as lunches so the changes had to be flexible and removable so the hall could continue as a multifunctional space. The biggest issue the students identified was the daily queueing experience which they wanted to become more ordered and enjoyable. NEON worked with students to develop a “fun queue” which combines a traditional stand and rope barrier with thousands of hanging ribbons decorated with jokes and facts.  The students also felt the food was often sub-standard and they wanted a way to provide feedback to the dinner ladies. This was achieved through voting buckets where the students could deposit dirty cutlery. The final change was that they wanted to create a special table for the “star students” of the week to sit at.  

Woodridge Primary School - All the students spend their breaks using the field. It is a huge space and an asset for the school but it is windy and doesn’t have much shelter from the sun. The school had previously tried to build a large shelter but it blew away in a strong wind. The group felt the most sustainable way of providing shelter within the budget was to plant a number of evergreen trees in the landscape. This response builds on the schools strong connection with the woods where all classes are named after a type of tree. The students decorated the trees with colourful wind chimes and ornaments.

The Holmewood School - The common area is used for reading, studying, relaxing and playing games. The students felt this area could be more organised and comfortable. The walls of the space are blue which the students found creates a calming atmosphere. The students wanted to reorganise the space creating two distinct “zones”; one for focussed study and the other for relaxing. This was achieved by placing beanbags and a sensory artwork in the relaxing zone and restructuring the storage of the space. The two spaces were unified with large blue rugs.

Queen Elizabeth’s Girls School - Most of the school use the canteen daily and the students felt this should be a relaxing and refreshing experience. This space needed to change as it was dark, dull and could feel very claustrophobic when all the students use it during breaks. The students decided to paint the whole space white with accent colours added in the form of graphic artworks. In addition the group installed a number of bright LED panels giving the appearance of additional windows that sat deep within the space.

The Compton School - Socialising and spending time with friends during breaks allows the students to relax in the middle of a busy school day. All the students gather in the concourse but it felt cold and lacked personality. The students wanted to make the space more comfortable and cosy and did this by adding padding to the seating and installing house plant inspired vinyls on the windows. The students needed to present the concepts to the senior management team of the school as part of this process and will continue the project by establishing an “architecture group” charged with improving the way the schools environment works.