Half-built. In the third of our series recalling unbuilt projects, Don Watson considers Edwin Codd’s system for temporary prefabricated classrooms of the 1970s. Versions of this were built across Queensland, but Codd’s intentions were never fully reali
World War II and the following baby boom resulted in a severe schools shortage. During the war the shortfall in Queensland was met with temporary prefabricated classrooms comparable to wartime army huts. In the 1950s school buildings were imported from England, where prefabrication had replaced wartime production for the former aircraft manufacturers Boulton and Paul and the Hawksley Company. With gabled roofs and erected on high stumps, they reflected a local preference for shaded play-space under schools. To overcome shortages in California in the 1960s, Educational Facilities Laboratories, supported by the Ford Foundation, promoted innovations which included the School Construction Systems Development (SCSD) programme under architect and advocate for industrialized building Ezra Ehrenkrantz. SCSD schools influenced Queensland designs in the 1970s, which were quite unlike their local predecessors, particularly the Industrialised Building ’74 (IB74) schools designed by architect and industrial designer Edwin Codd for the Department of Works. These schools with flat roofs were slab-on-ground buildings with long axes running east–west on a 1.2-metre module, steel-framed with trusses spanning 10.8 metres at 4.8-metre centres. Unlike their Californian ancestors, they were naturally ventilated, with fenestration shaded by eaves 2.4 metres wide on the north and 1.2 metres wide elsewhere, and largely windowless walls east and west. Low-level windows were metal louvres. The schools were strongly coloured: steel framing blue, doors red and distinctive funnel-like downpipes yellow. The IB74 schools could hardly be said to be unbuilt, but were generally erected without fully realizing Eddie Codd’s intentions.
Don Watson is an architect with Project Services at the Queensland Department of Public Works.