Rogers hits back at Gove over school design

David Rogers

Richard Rogers

Richard Rogers has attacked education secretary Michael Gove for singling out his practice in his criticism of the recent school building programme.

Last week Gove told a conference on free schools that “we won’t be getting Richard Rogers to design your school, we won’t be getting any ’award-winning’ architects to design it because no-one in this room is here to make architects richer”.

But in a letter to today’s Guardian, Rogers says he is “confused” by Gove’s comments and accuses him of not knowing which schools have performed better since they were redesigned - including Rogers’ Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London.

“[Gove] had told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One that ’The truth about free schools is that they will introduce the sort of innovation and dynamism that we’ve already seen in schools like Mossbourne’,” Rogers writes.

“He neglected to add that this former failing school in a deprived area of London - which is now achieving spectacular academic success - was designed by my practice.”

Rogers goes on to point out that Mossbourne was designed outside the BSF programme and adds: “School design is about creating a vibrant, stimulating and motivating environment for staff as well as students.

“If we want schools which really reflect the commitment which this and future governments should be making to young people and their teachers, those schools should be designed by architects who really understand and care about the communities who will use them.”

And he finishes by dismissing suggestions from free schools pioneer Toby Young that school design doesn’t have an impact on children’s education. He writes: “Good design quality, improved educational performance and value for money go hand in hand.”

Earlier, RIBA Journal editor and Sunday Times architecture critic Hugh Pearman told BD that Gove was “hapless” to single out Rogers for criticism. “Given [Mossbourne’s] very success the hapless Gove has managed to single out exactly the wrong architect,” he said.

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