PodSolve: the future of school construction?

Ian Harris, maber

Do we really want a new pony? Or do we want a hovercraft? That’s the question Ian Harris of maber architects asked when proposing a new modular school solution for Leeds East Academy.

Ian guides us through the world’s first PodSolve project.



About PodSolve
Developed by the Norwood Group and Interserve, PodSolve uses prefabricated modular classrooms arranged in clusters to form open and enclosed teaching spaces, allowing infinite adaptability and a reduction of wasteful corridor space.
Image credit

Image credit with thanks: maber and Alastair Carew-Cox. The world’s first PodSolve in action at Leeds East Academy, Yorkshire.



Ian Harris, Architect, Maber For 20 years, Ian has worked with schools and colleges to create better buildings for learning communities. In this video, he explains how he implemented the world's first PodSolve modular solution at Leeds East Academy.

Flexible, open-plan layout

PodSolve / Leeds East Academy Flexible, open-plan layout

“One of my pet hates is wider corridors. From a daylighting perspective, they’re disastrous,” says Ian Harris. “So we took a view about percolating rather than circulating – moving through other spaces rather than down defined corridors. We borrowed this idea from our commercial experience, and worked with the school on grouping spaces into different things.”

In this image, you can see how the pods are situated in a flexible configuration amongst open and social spaces.



Image credit
Image credit with thanks: maber and Alastair Carew-Cox.



PodSolve / Leeds East Academy

Inside the pod: classroom

This image shows a pod configured in a typical classroom layout.

“Sometimes you need to acoustically enclose a space if you’re trying to teach the specific sound of a French verb, for instance,” says Ian Harris. “But that limits the number of people you can get into the room.

“It also stops teachers being able to do other things. An English room is very hard to turn into a theatre to actually play out some Shakespeare when it’s full of chairs and tables.”



Science lab (next slide)
The next slide shows a science lab configuration. There are five subject villages in Leeds East Academy, and science sits alongside art spaces. These “wet services” are purposely kept together.
Image credit
Image credit with thanks: maber and Alastair Carew-Cox.



Chris Stokes, head teacher, Client Chris Stokes is the head teacher at Leeds East Academy. In this video, he outlines the impact that PodSolve has had on the learning environment, children and staff.

What’s Next?

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Many thanks to Ian Harris, maber; Chris Stokes at Leeds East Academy; and the guests at Education: Design a Brighter Future (Birmingham), where we filmed and collected this material in July 2017.