Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London

In August 2021, I was hired to put together a proposal for a Makerhub for the Gesher School in North-West London. Gesher is an Ofsted Outstanding Primary School currently in the development phase, expanding into an all-through school for students aged 4-16 years. The school caters to students with a range of mild to moderate special educational needs (SEN) including Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and Down's Syndrome.

In preparation for the development of their secondary school, Gesher has been collaborating with Planning Learning Spaces (PLS) in Practice via an iterative facilitation process to ensure that the school’s student & curriculum goals are wholly integrated with the design and functionality of their learning environment.


One output from this process was the decision to create a central Makerhub whose capabilities permeate the school’s entire learning ecosystem and enable design & maker-centered learning to be central to the Gesher learning experience.


As an associate of PLS, specialising in on-site resources for experiential, hands-on learning, including learning environment design, technology integration and curriculum design, I was invited to collaborate on developing a sustainable solution that would meet the project's goals.



Design

The Gesher Makerhub has been designed through a lens of research-led pedagogical and environmental design principles that leverage state-of-the-art digital, interactive, communication and prototyping technologies. Such an environment enlists learners' innate curiosity, personal interests and the totality of their capabilities to facilitate deep, meaningful learning. The hub is designed to integrate standards-based curricula with the development of technical, social and emotional abilities, while fostering a positive lifelong relationship with learning.


Layout

The hub is structured into four dynamic, functionally complementary and visually interconnected zones. Sliding, floor-to-ceiling acoustic glass panels enable the spatial and sensory properties of the space to be easily and quickly adjusted, while maintaining visual access to collaborators, processes, tools and materials throughout.

Although adaptability is a key function of the entire hub, each of the four zones has been designed to facilitate the needs of the distinct stages and processes required for design, making, and project development.


Gesher Secondary Makerhub Zones:

  1. The Node - Communication, Construction & Creative Collaboration

  2. The Factory - Manufacturing

  3. Design Thinking Lab - Ideation, Prototyping, Testing & Documenting

  4. Reimagine Zone - Research, Reflection & Personal Engagement



The Node

Adjacent to the Creative Thinking Lab, with sliding door access to The Factory on one side, this space is the entry point to the hub. A second sliding glass panel leading to the Design Thinking Lab enables the zone to acoustically isolate from the rest of the hub.

Digital Mock-up of "Node" Zone in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty
Digital Mock-up of "Node" Zone in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty


The Factory

The Factory is where students can bring their ideas and digital designs into the physical realm. With tools and materials at arm’s reach and on visual display throughout, this zone empowers learners to learning with their hands. Natural wood paneling, acoustic glass and industrial flooring let students know this is a place where they can explore the physicality of tools, processes and materials, with permission to make (a temporary) mess.


Digital Mock-up of the 'Factory'" Zone in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty
Digital Mock-up of the 'Factory'" Zone in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty


Design Thinking Lab

The Design Thinking Lab functions as a live 3D sketchbook to capture creative output, and as a tinkering/prototyping playpen.


Blanket whiteboard surfaces, smart projector, tablets and access to dozens of prototyping, construction and tinkering kits support learners to freely explore the entire Design Thinking process and enable the capture of moments of brilliance as they emerge. Available flat wall space, coupled with a retractable green screen enable live video streaming, tutorial creation and audio/visual presentations.


Digital Mock-up of the 'Design Thinking Lab" in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty

Digital Mock-up of the 'Design Thinking Lab" in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty


Reimagine Zone

The Reimagine zone is designed as a mindful space with warm, adjustable lighting, vertical garden and comfortable floor space where makers can quietly focus, reflect and engage in personal action. Two high-spec computers facilitate digital research, design and media editing.


Digital Mock-up of the 'Reimagine" zone in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty

Digital Mock-up of the 'Reimagine" zone in proposed Gesher Secondary School Makerhub, London - Copyright Thom Conaty


Funding has been approved and implementation of the new Maker Hub will begin in the New Year.


To see other examples of my work, please check out my professional portfolio of learning space designs.