Be True to Your School
School design is one of the most challenging undertakings. It must be ultra-functional, psychologically aligned, and meet stringent guidelines and budgets.
Plenty of experts have dedicated considerable time to understanding and producing better educational facilities through great design. Here are five data-backed ways to do just that.
Expand Facility Management
A common area is not just a place for students to eat lunch or study. It may evolve into a gathering space for clubs or stage student council meetings. Design that takes into account multiple uses of a space is just one way facility management could be expanded.
Sure, architects plan for mechanical, plumbing, security, and electrical as a matter of course. But too often other elements of managing a facility are overlooked. Everyday use of the building is not usually a part of this conversation, but it should be.
Effective use of space, instructional space size, sufficient areas for all activities, and ambient qualities that enhance the learning environment are all part of managing the facility in the real world so why not plan for them in the design phase?
Another similar consideration is to plan the entire community around educational needs. Research shows that learning takes place everywhere, not just within the school building. Schools with nearby museums, libraries, performing arts centers, gyms, and pools make for a richer learning experience that’s all within the reach of the student.
Color in School Design
Color is a much researched principle in design on the whole, but even more so in school design. The research says that learning can be directly influenced by environment and color is a big part of that.
Instructional areas of a school need balanced neutral colors and other need vibrant, energetic colors to help students succeed.
Daltile recently introduced Volume 1.0 and Volume 1.1, both perfectly suited for bringing the right colors into school. 1.0 offers calming neutral shades and 1.1 has exciting colors that amp up the school spirit in common areas.
Researchers since the 1960s have shown that smaller schools provide better opportunity to students, increased participation, and lower crime rates. But truthfully, it’s pretty difficult to pull off. It simply isn’t feasible to limit a school to under 1000 students per school.
However, the school-within-a-school design allows for smaller pods to rest inside a larger school and still offer some of the benefits that come with smaller schools. These resemble a village or campus that houses several decentralized “schools” that have the feel of independence but are really part of a larger whole. Some secondary educational facilities experiment with building separate campuses for lower and upperclassmen.
Home-like design in schools has been shown to create a more comfortable and successful learning environment than colder, institutionalized designs. Take a look in a classroom today and you’re much more likely to see couches and throw pillows making up a reading nook than rows and rows of desks.
Architects and designers can add to that aesthetic with homey qualities in the school design. Welcoming entryways, backyard-type play areas, faux rooflines, restrooms near the classrooms all help to make a school cozier.
Long hallways are a traditional design for schools, but they disregard some very important elements that are a part of every school like effective circulation, social interaction, safety, and supervision.
Designs with larger common areas that students must pass through to get to classes lets them meet with friends briefly. It also lets teachers and administrators keep watch, where in longer corridors there is more opportunity for students to be out of sight and get into trouble.
Shorter hallways also allow for cluster instructional space. Putting a single discipline, or similar disciplines together encourages collaboration among teachers and students. Many schools will also cluster different age groups that can benefit each other when they are close by.
Clusters can include resource areas, conference rooms, small common areas, and teacher offices that blend with instructional space and support integrated learning. Clustered spaces can be modular if a design needs to plan for expansion or rearrangement later on down the road.