When it comes to designing and building educational spaces like schools and classrooms, it is critical that a lot of thought and reflection goes into the planning. Educational facilities are such important features in society, and while there are some foundational concepts when it comes to their design, these are spaces that must also keep up with current trends and research. As society evolves and modernises, so too must schools and classrooms, as the needs of students today differ from the needs of students of years past. This month, we focus on the current trends in classroom design which can inform and guide the building and construction of new schools and learning spaces. Keep reading to discover these trends, as well as the importance of partnering with a custom commercial builder, who can expertly carry out such projects.
Prioritising Natural Features for Comfort
When it comes to natural features in a classroom or educational space, this means prioritising factors like light, temperature, and air flow and quality. For instance, natural light is incredibly important in classrooms for a number of reasons. These include the positive effect of natural light on mood, as well as less incidences of eye strain when compared to working in artificial lighting, like under harsh fluorescents. Further, when designing these spaces, adequate temperature control must be taken into account. Artificial heating and cooling should be considered, as well as the placement of doors and windows, which can both help to regulate temperature in the room, and provide air flow too. These features all work together to create a comfortable learning space, and the psychological theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates clearly that physical comfort is foundational to efficient learning.
Centring Student and Staff Wellbeing
Prioritising the wellbeing of the students and staff that spend time in these educational spaces has been a trend in education for many years. However, in the past few years, and certainly post-pandemic, wellbeing is increasingly a consideration in the design of new classrooms and schools. A holistic view of wellbeing is essential when it comes to these spaces, which means taking into account not only physical wellbeing as outlined above, but also mental, social, and cognitive wellbeing also. In practice, this prioritisation of wellbeing can look different depending on the needs of the particular school, but can include things like: lots of greenery, such as a green wall, comfortable breakout areas which allow for collaboration in learning and also ‘brain breaks’, calming colour palettes, the use of natural materials like timber or stone, and even spaces dedicated to relaxation which can be used in free periods, or recess times.
Learning and the Great Outdoors
Increasingly in schools, learning and the outdoors are being brought closer and closer together. The benefits of natural lighting in classrooms that we have discussed pertain to outdoor learning as well, plus the benefits of fresh air speak for themselves. While outdoor learning is largely dependent upon the weather and as such is not suitable 100 percent of the time, classrooms that allow easy access to the outdoors or that bring the outdoors in, are increasingly popular. This could involve sliding doors or French doors which can be opened to increase the floor-plan of the classroom and give students the freedom to choose to work outside or inside. Alternatively, schools may choose to design and build covered areas on their grounds which can accommodate more outdoor lessons.
Flexible and Modular Spaces for Inclusive Learning
Flexibility is a consideration that continues to be at the forefront of classroom and school design. What is clear about both teaching staff and their students, is that modern classrooms need to be able to serve multiple purposes not only from day to day, but sometimes from hour to hour. For instance, he first teaching block of the day may involve whole class instruction which requires the space for an entire class (or two, or three) to sit together and learn. Following this, breakout spaces for several small groups may be required. After recess, students may need to work in pairs to complete an activity, before reading independently before lunch. Just from this example, the need for classrooms to offer as much flexibility as possible is evident. This can mean anything from flexible furniture, consideration of the size of the actual room, sliding or concertina doors, open-plan learning, and spaces or areas that can serve multiple purposes.
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