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BER

edited June 2009 in architecture
It was an interesting night at Process last week. Topic of the evening was the Building Education Revolution. Guests were various architects who shall remain nameless (though they wouldn't be hard to find). Reason for the namelessness is that the points of view expressed were extraordinarily candid, it was as if they had forgetten they were speaking to the general public.
The speakers included some architects who worked on the "planning" of a few schools. This consisted of being commissioned, visiting said schools immediately, and coming up with a masterplan for each within five days, which meant locating and allocating template designs. At that stage the templates were barely more than footprints. None of the templates seemed to be a good fit, and in fact they had some of them the wrong way round for the sun, not that they knew that at the time - it only meant they wouldn't conform to part J of the BCA. The general attitude of the schools was - well this template isn't really what we need, but it's better than nothing. The architects had expected further work with the same schools, but it turned out that they had to pass their work on to other architects for the followup.
One school has a library it wants to do up, but couldn't get the funding for that. So they'll get a new library off a template.
Some template architects also spoke. They'd been given briefed areas lists in early March and been told to come up with template designs, instantly. Then they were told by architects in government that the designs were too designed - that they should be less identifiable, possibly so that they couldn't be identified as BER buildings in the future. The briefs they worked to had been previously defined by bureaucrats, and were politically loaded. The architects didn't see much demand for the "language centres" requested, but school principals have taken them anyway, with an assumption that they would turn them into what was needed later on. Building Education Renovation is expected to follow the Building Education Revolution, but not for a while as we are currently eating up the next decade or so of education infrastructure funding.
One architect spoke about doing it the old way - his was a non-template design for an independent school. While the briefing and sketch design process was traditional, it was on speed. Try coming up with a $4M building in a week, from scratch. Still, the result was clever and commendable in the circumstances.
A project manager spoke glumly about the difficulties of the process. Architects were being asked to do too much too quickly, and therefore badly, and at some risk to their health. The result would not serve schools well, nor the profession. The BER is not apparently about education at all, it is about building, as quickly as possible. It doesn't matter if the product is an expensive mistake - as long as lots of people are employed to make paint and pavers - thus averting the country's financial collapse. The BER is even less about architects - we are just slowing down the cash injection with our design process.
Predicted for the next stage of the revolution: busy builders sending prices sky high; ridiculous administration costs substantially reducing the grants to schools; and big problems getting the buildings certified (I think they meant Part J). So far building tenders have been coming in at the right price, but how long can that last?
We were urged by one speaker to take this to the top - the design process has been misunderstood by government and they need to be enlightened. Apparently the institute is doing something on this front.
Then one architect said, though there were lots of problems, he was a 'happy hooker'. People dropped their glasses and scurried for the exit after that. The atmosphere had become rather strange.
All thanks to Process for assembling this event.
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Vital details left in limbo 30/5  "There is surely a more useful debate for our politicians to be having about the extent to which the need for speed in stimulating the economy has compromised maximum benefits we could be getting from all that cash."
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MPs urge 'no secrets' on schools 3/6  "Last week, principals accused the Government of siphoning federal funds earmarked for schools under the Rudd Government's $14 billion "Building the Education Revolution" program, which is designed to stimulate the economy... Other complaints have since emerged. Some schools say they are being forced to accept unsuitable building templates; building contractors say they are being asked to tender on projects hundreds of kilometres away; and several schools say they lack space for the new buildings they are allocated."
Schools slam state funding 'rip-off' 23/5 "On the valuations we've received, the State Government will make between $500,000 and $1.4 million on each of the 10 building templates. The entire amount of federal funding should be allocated to schools and not creamed off by Mr Brumby."
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Comments

  • edited June 2009
    know of at least one govt. school can't be bothered.
    too much trouble and not what they need/want.

    most revolutions end in the shit. just ask the Cubans.
  • edited 10:22AM
    I wouldn't say cuba ended in shit - OAS just readmitted them 'without conditions'
  • edited June 2009
    your saying it ended with more a whimper?
    (not a lot left of the iron curtain trading bloc)

    guess the 40 years of driving round in 50's cars did pass in the wink of an eye.
    + not everyone's idea of shit sure - even for a holiday.
    heaps of upper middle class canberra commies thought it was a terrific place

    -------
    I'd be punting on a black market in catholic identity papers down in mexico.
    along with a shift in property values in suburbs with papal schools.
  • edited June 2009
    wouldn't it be a post revolution....
    sure, cubans' had some good templates to borrow......
  • edited 10:22AM
    Why turn up to a dud race
    The BER bridle is too tight - the horses are running backwards
    Maybe the private stables see a different finishing line
    No - more likely a different kind of race
    Who wants to win a sh*t meet?
    KRUDD is the trophy for the public track titsuckers
    Short tracks - wet and boggy - more steeple race set up for the vets gun
  • edited June 2009
    she is a lady vet i hear.
    does the shooting and hands out the trophies to dead horses.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25623795-601,00.html
    ---

    coffee bar bellyaching?
    small time hairdressers are not seeing the federated union of barbers say boo in public about the bowl cuts they will be handing out to govt. orphans. Don't want gravitarse and his accountant unbuttering their bread?

    the beautician's league seems split over makeup
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25623565-13881,00.html
  • edited 10:22AM
    Peter, thank you so much for this review, its great to see some discussion happening on the BER, here in WA we are just doing what we're told, and complaining under our breaths. Just a few things you might be interested in, and i'd be keen to hear what other states are doing too: all the govt schools here MUST use template designs, and can not be altered AT ALL, not even moving doors to line up with existing paths etc. As for the Section J, the govt schools do not have to be submitted for Building Licence here (are submitted for information/records only) therefore no one checks them for BCA Compliance, therefore there are elements of them that do not comply (like Section J, the disabled toilets, no fire extinguishers). These will also be very much identifiable as BER projects, as there is only one standard specification, specifying the type and colour of brick, external steelwork etc, which will be interesting once that brick runs out.
    It is great to hear Gillard harping on about 'schools for the 21st century'. The templates we are using were drawn in the 1980s, with the only 21st Century addition wireless broadband. How revolutionary!!
  • edited June 2009
    ^ yer describing a freshly minted inner-city mexican govt. school, by top name architect, with "vigilant" committee & without the aid of a template - complete with the doors / paths paradox, knock out columns for kids, head slicer windows, linear plans oriented east and west --- bonus power bills to study in the paint fumes rub in the jilted ESD promises nicely.

    how many mexican childhoods were spent in templates. by romberg? - not sure. they weren't bad. nothing to worry about.

    bespoke customs v commie cookie cutters.
    SP would give me good odds on a photo finish in the stupidity stakes.

    ------

    maybe there are not enough templates running. 3 horses for 15 gates?

    maybe there are too many greedy schools, don't need something but its "free"?

    maybe the bricks won't run out - be just the only brick you can get for anything for the next 5 years?

    but............the template per se is a non issue?
    Your either prepared to see where its applicable and execute it if so or your obliged to walk away from it in total in instances where it won't. otherwise your not a professional if you have put your snout in the trough, your a service provider. its an ethical question at the bottom of it all - no?
  • edited June 2009
    @Dan, 1980s weren't so bad were they - have you go any pics - I will try to dredge some from the interweb.


    @HD I don't think schools are necessarily greedy - the gift horse arrives once a blue moon for them so they're hesitant to look it in the mouth, even if its a donkey to them. This mega-funding drive ensures there won't be another blue moon for them for a very long time.


    The templates wouldn't be so wrong if there was a little time to consider which one is best for each school (if any), and where to put it. Some of the gift horse will become white elephants, with derrieres parked for good on land that could be used in a better way.
  • edited June 2009
    @ peter.
    schools are people - or inert institutions? some are greedy. some are clever etc etc?

    - its a smart track for the profession to go down to critique a template by comparing it against a custom? given that these customs aren't hypothetical and not necessarily all good.

    architects in this stimulus are by and large not being asked for an idea.
    at least not one that they can be expressive about as is their expectation.
    Gillard is the architect. she's had her idea and its already at least 3 years old.
    her life pre federal politics was as chief advisor to the harcourt accountant.
    the accountant fired up the template team 2 years ago - how did that go again?
    -----Did none of you read Krudd's monthly essay? the profession is a corporatised labour pool - staff for a bigger idea that belongs to government. And as the sandwich lady on Airforce Airlines can tell you - the big boss doesn't like uppity staff or staff that don't do what he tells them to do.

    - if you didn't position knowing that then your reduced to barking while the caravan moves on.
    i'd be circumspect shitcanning kev/julia & associates as incapable of kicking goals - that big team will be spraying the posts and the ball will be down that end of the ground most of the game. which is kinda good if your standing around at the other end of the field and someone gets the ball out.

    ---
    as to being parked on land for good. nothing lasts forever.
  • edited 10:22AM
    Rudd essay Feb 2009: homework for the weekend: http://www.themonthly.com.au/node/1421
    Even though it's all about the end..
    "Reasoning that the costs of failing to provide fiscal stimulus will outweigh the negative effect on budgets, Tony Blair implores current leaders to "do whatever it takes ... to get the blood pumping back round the financial system again". The challenge for new Keynesians is also to ensure that this stimulus is targeted, timely and temporary." RUDD
    ... the means still need to be questioned.
  • edited June 2009
    ^^I'd read it all - (if you can take the haul through his mangled coil of a summer dump.)
    quote is the sawdust he sprinkled on top.
    the general gist is very relevant.

    I don't think Krudd will turn the clock back somehow.
    As bob ellis said day after the election - "the mountain has laboured and brought forth a clerk".
    ha.

    questioning it as good as being out of it at this late stage? - Krudd/Gillard corp that is.
    why not just head down and compete against them.
    they might give uppity staff a bit of a listen and call it consultation toward a consensus if your lucky.
    (tho i see N Pearson isn't falling for the consensus bs and cold shouldered Garrett)

    ------
    section J? - no guarantee of ESD/Hi(T)Po buildings. a furphy? (ask NAB).
    Does anyone really know how these templates will perform.
    be fcuking embarassing if the customizer lobby in the profession kicks up a fuss now and then gets dusted by government trabants tomorrow.
    what if they hook up big fans and dials to this shit at the end?
    and then stick the hose into a few customs exhaust pipes as well just for a comparison.
  • edited June 2009
    Peter - have been looking for some pics, no they're not necessarily bad, just sometimes don't fit / suit existing sites, or allow for proven 21st century educational ideas. HD - unfortunately we have been 'encouraged' to do these govvie projects so that we are elegibile for govvie work in the future , so we try and do the best we can. Basically held out some long-term carrots for after this stimulus stuff is finished. its also for the clients, many of whom have to be really helped through this very tricky process, and it helps them to have an architect who has done ed work before. but yes the ethics of it is a really hard one to deal with...
  • edited June 2009
    true dan.
    reassuring to see bigkev/gillard & associates running standard corporate ethics codes.

    some mexican builders got the same story re the get to work wherever we tell u now or your out line.
    - those carrots might be the same colour and pretty shrivelled by the time you get to them.

    greed?
    http://www.theage.com.au/national/silence-adds-to-schools-ripoff-fears-20090613-c6t2.html
  • edited 10:22AM
    And it continues... "Wondall Heights State School hall, built in 1984, will be demolished under a Federal Government cash bonanza for schools" Original architect Rob Wilson thinks they could upgrade the existing hall for $300K rather than spend $3M on a new one.
    http://wynnum-herald.whereilive.com.au/news/story/wondall-hall-to-be-demolished-then-replaced/
  • edited June 2009
    too late -
    the design partner has left the country on a study tour junket.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25652970-601,00.html

    when she is back
    she pulls this lever.
    - pushes the other one marked first home buyers bonus to the off position?
  • edited 10:22AM
    Turnbull sees a chance to turn up the heat: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25654223-601,00.html
  • edited 10:22AM
    "fair shake of the sauce bottle"
    look who is running this country.....
    john howard with a different coloured tie and his ever faithful deputy pauline hanson in drag.
    is it any real suprise that this is happening ?
    but then again, the precedent has been set, all one needs to do is apologise and all is forgiven.
    in five years time could the nation expect this ......?????   "for the BER we apologise"
  • edited June 2009
    via double or single glazed jaw?
  • edited 10:22AM
    Prof Newman from Curtin tells The Fifth Estate he's been misquoted by the Australian about the lost opportunity for sustainable school design. “They blew out everything I said. The headline, talking about slamming the government, I didn’t say that.” The Fifth Estate says he really blames the States for: "having no ready sustainable framework prepared for their schools development program." Newman says, "[the feds] want it to be done quickly and the states weren’t literally ready and they fall back on the old ways of doing this because the states are not taking climate change seriously."
    Asked if he thought the rather compacted programme might have had something to do with it, Newman said, "
    “What’s reasonable when it comes to the environment and global climate change? The only reasonable thing to do is to act dramatically.”
    More on crikey.
  • edited June 2009
    Prof Newman might be looking at Godwin Grech?
    the old ........"this is a big qualification".

    been interesting watching the partner in charges performance on tv last few days.
    doesn't take criticism well?
  • CazCaz
    edited 10:22AM
    I have lived in the UK for the last 15 years, teaching in London schools. We have done some serious investigating into the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme and those behind the Academy Schools agenda in the UK. What we have come up with is disturbing indeed.
    The head of Studioearchitects, Andrzej Kuszell, confirms that architects are working on the principal of ‘human re-engineering’ although declines to make detailed comments about this, also known as ‘euthenics’, the reframing of the mind on account of the physical environment someone is placed in.
    We know that a new schools agenda is occurring in Israel, India, Libya, Vietnam, Australia, the US, and Canada, at least. The National Audit Office in the UK commissioned the Rand Corporation to write up a document on the 14-19 curriculum to be applied in the Netherlands, Sweden and Australia.
    Evidence is available for a eugenics programme now in place in UK schools on the youtube video ‘ARK Schools, Academies and Eugenics’ at this location:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBxQpft5F_k
    And more here:
    http://www.global-elite.org/node/912
  • edited 10:22AM
    Caz, I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter, but you don't need to imagine vast and subterranean conspiracies to appreciate the scale of this catastrophe. The ordinary, dull and uncomplicated exigencies of modern life - the things that ordinary people do to other ordinary people in the name of their ordinary pursuits - are far more horrifying than any putative shadowy new world order.

    Also, an aside, I'd never trust anything that uses 'quotation marks' more than once every 'paragraph.'
  • edited 10:22AM
    ...

    ...

    Having read through that link I now feel the urge to wipe my mind clean with steel-wool. You freaks actually *believe* that?

    ...

    Bollocks to the lot of you.
  • edited 10:22AM
    hd, here's on for your reading pile.
    http://australiandesignreview.com/response/13670-In-Praise-of-Slow-Building
    some reading for next time any confused accountants come for a trim.
  • edited September 2009
    ^ like to have my customers sit still in the chair while i'm shaven em cabbie.

    toni-wheels-off women's weekly eco cook book has em shaken with laughter.
    what is it - the margaret fulton's of architecture have got a dopey answer for everything.
    baby boomer 70s spag bol recipes with overboiled cross ventilation arrows, bay leaf opening windows and grated swiss cheese envelopes are out of date?

    ---coal bullet to the head while he is standing next to an opening window with a jumper on is the kindest thing you could do. only problem would be the environmental footprint from all the cemetaries you'd need to bring forward a decade to take care of the rest of the bb oxygen users.
  • edited 10:22AM
    what a surprise
    http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/education-revolution-faltering-expert-20091101-hrn0.html
  • edited November 2009
    how hard tanned arse is calling for a national govt. architect in latest barber news memo.
    "a commonwealth Govt. Architect, given sufficient influence, would guide all national built initiatives to better outcomes. Imagine all govt. schools assisted under the present stimulus package achieving buildings of award - winning quality---- blah blah blah".


    1. Thats a lot of awards? --(then again he's just set the national bar nice and low.)
    2. guess who he has in mind and needs a parachute in 12 months time?
    - someone who sits in the harcourt accountants office and wields considerable influence?

    is it starting to sound like a profession running from an idea that the more powerful mexican elite in it endorsed 2 years ago when it comes to the BER. including the SGA.
  • edited November 2009
    penny wong - minister for carbon poisoning couldn't jump over a 5 star bar for her fitout.

    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/energy-smart/rudd-fails-on-election-promise-to-run-clean-energy-government-20091107-i2vq.html

    good news for the harcourt accountant - kingdom is #2 in world.

    http://www.mnn.com/the-home/building-renovating/stories/germany-mexico-us-top-smart-energy-list

    need gravitarse in to recalibrate the nat. GBCA ruler on the high jump legs.
    then mexico Hulia can trumpet her BER as green and not purple
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