Commissioned research project for the Department of Education and Training, State of Victoria to prepare a Translational Brief for the Footscray Learning Precinct in 2017.
The project, Translational Briefing: Footscray Learning Precinct Case Study, involved the development of an educational space planning brief (campus and space planning principles) for the schools associated with the new Footscray Learning Precinct (FLP).
Intended to inform the architectural design process, a strategic translational brief was developed to link information about the educational visions and objectives of the schools (currently Footscray City Primary School, Footscray City College and Gilmore College) with the overall FLP development plan. These objectives were translated into a clearly articulated educational space planning brief.
As a ‘research by design’ case study, this project supported the development of new approaches to translating educational visions and objectives into spatial/functional requirements for school facilities.
Detailed project outline
The ‘translational design’ of schools involves linking knowledge about teaching and learning practices and school organisational structures with the architectural design of facilities. Such translational activity/work is common in industry, yet done with varying degrees of proficiency, resulting in both alignments and misalignments of space and practice.
In addition to supporting the Department of Education and Training's FLP project, this research sought to develop new knowledge about the effective translation of educational visions and objectives (i.e. desired teaching and learning practices and school organisational structures) into educational space planning briefs. A key objective was to create an exemple brief that could to be readily interpreted by architects to ensure that the facilities delivered aligned with ‘what schools need’.
The brief was commissioned to answer the following key questions:
- How best can the aspirations (educational vision and objectives) of the FLP schools be translated into spatial/functional requirements for school facilities?
- What are the required functional relationships between facilities for the redeveloped and/or new school sites?
- What learning spaces/settings are required within each facility to meet curriculum, pedagogy, pastoral care, and overall social organisation objectives – including the location and distribution of teaching and administration staff?
The Footscray Learning Precinct development project presented a rare opportunity to both contribute to a Department of Education and Training (DET) project, while simultaneously engaging in ‘research by design’, with the objective of contributing to the development of new knowledge and approaches to improving the ‘translational design’ of schools.
The development of the brief provided the research team with the opportunity to develop, implement and test a range of written and visual communication strategies, with the aim of better informing the architects and other key stakeholders about the spatial/functional requirements for the school facilities, based on understandings of the participating schools’ previously documented educational visions and objectives, as well as the overall vision for the Footscray Learning Precinct.
At the local level, the development of the translational brief played a key role in translating the educational and social objectives of the participating schools (including relationships with local early learning and higher education providers) into spatial/functional requirements. It is anticipated that the research will have a significant ‘on the ground’ benefit to the community and inform future briefing approaches.
More broadly, the outcomes of this research is expected to inform the development of improved strategies and approaches to translating educational visions and objectives into spatial/functional requirements for schools via a range of written and visual communication tools.
Publications and project outputs
- Cleveland, B., Newton, C., Backhouse, S., Bower, I. (2017). Translational Brief: Footscray Learning Precinct: Department of Education and Training. The University of Melbourne. Melbourne. (Unpublished)
Dr Ben Cleveland, Senior Lecturer
Sarah Backhouse, Research Associate
Isabella Bower, Research Assistant
A/Prof Clare Newton, Associate Professor
Banner: Dandenong High School, Hayball. Photo by Peter Clarke.