Restoring the Classroom – Equality Through Design



Cardiff, Wales, CF, United Kingdom

Project Description

Reimagining the early education environment and pedagogy for deprived areas of the South Wales Valleys

This thesis focuses on providing a level of equality for deprived children in primary school education, using sustainable prefabricated learning environments that have a direct connection to nature. With a wide spectrum of learning environment quality and teaching standards within south wales, it is unsurprising that the attainment and aspirations of children and young adults differs between affluent and more deprived areas. 

The thesis aims to questions the planned obsolescence of prefabrication and why this building typology has been so successful and widely used within education over the last century. Historic socially conscious architecture within education provides a precedent to challenge whether a prefabricated learning space could act as a leveller for all children in their first experience of education. With the ongoing threat of climate emergency, education is key to creating positive change within the population as highlighted by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

The thesis study is located in the South Wales Valleys with selection of two struggling primary school sites from highly deprived areas. Issues of geographic isolation and socio-economic challenges create disparity between the South Wales Valleys and the South of Wales and so require intervention. The first proposal consists of an optimum learning environment modular classroom situated within the school boundary to provide an exceptional and duplicable learning environment. This classroom is based on the Montessori pedagogical principles and consists of a kit of parts for flexible adaption to different contexts and use requirements. The second proposal consists of a demountable and transportable forest school that aims to highlight the wealth of green space available to these deprived areas. The Forest school provides an alternative form of education that reconnects children with nature which can be shared with a proposed urban-rural exchange scheme. 

On a larger macro scale, this thesis proposes a modular classroom manufacturing network within the South Wales Valleys, that would help to replace employment by closed industries such as coal, engineering and textiles. This network could provide a wealth of jobs and new skill sets within a community desperately in need of local employment. 


Chris Knox


M Arch 2

Other work by Chris Knox