Author: Joshua Page
Today, education sits at the heart of a political pendulum. Recent education reforms have blurred the lines between the public and the private sector, with the boarding school epitomizing the latter. Deriving from a monastic origin, boarding schools originally educated bright young boys from the local community; supplying free accommodation, pastoral care, and a higher education. However, as wealth and social status became ever-present, these institutions became increasingly insular, moving out of cities and into countryside mansions. Here, they became a breeding ground for the noble and affluent, entering a self-perpetuating cycle of social immobility, juxtaposing their original ethos.
Alma Mater is born from the necessity to reverse this process; to bring the boarding school back into the community. The scheme is oriented around a central pedestrian street, which feeds onto open and closed courtyards. Public classrooms, collective halls and individual houses all open out to these courtyards, creating a buffer space from the street. It is here where engagement occurs between the school and community, facilitating a cross-generational interchange. This contact promotes a breadth of learning, not only in formal environments, but across pupils entire lives. The aim is to spark new interests, open up new futures and invoke a liberal education.