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Rethinking the Design of Educational Spaces

It is now more than ever important that we are rethinking and re-engaging with the role of the built environment in order to support educational processes. Recently we’ve seen huge investment into the design of working environments: rethinking layout, providing flexibility and improving breakout spaces, following research into the correlation between work environment and productivity, professional growth and concentration. And not only are we now designing offices based on facts that align interior design and mental wellbeing, empirically we can see that dated offices just no longer fit the needs of modern working.

So with an appreciation on how to design spaces to nurture these positive outcomes, it’s time we apply this knowledge and experience to educational spaces. Especially after schools being closed for so long due to COVID-19, we have come to truly appreciate how the classroom supports student development beyond academics, including socially and emotionally.

It seems we can draw many similarities between school and office design. Much like outdated office spaces, the classroom has too become obsolete. And though we may have come a long way in terms of equipment; swapping out dip pens for biros, and replacing chalkboards with smart boards, the development of classroom spaces has remained somewhat unchanged. These decisions to modernise equipment to better support current teaching seems counter-intuitive, when the environment in which our children are learning in remains not dissimilar from that of their great-grandparents. So what needs to change?

Flexibility is one of the most important considerations when it comes to classroom design. Traditional classrooms are very rigid, often comprised of rows or clusters of desks and expected to accommodate for all learning abilities and styles. However this is just not the case.

Typically there are four main current teaching styles which include:

  • One-way communication
  • Discussion
  • Individual study
  • Task-based learning.

Current school design presents limitations to the delivery of information and execution of different tasks through its rigidity. To cater more efficiently to these varied learning styles, classrooms need to integrate more purposeful furniture into the design. Specifying a range of furniture that works with these modern pedagogical methods will only improve the flow between the processes of teaching and learning. It is also important to use space planning to zone areas dedicated to achieving the objectives of these varied learning styles.

Not only are there more ways to learn aside from just listening to information, there has been more of a shift towards pupil-focused learning. Creating spaces that are in tune with not only how we want to teach, but how students want to learn, is essential for the future of classroom design.  Coming to this understanding leads to the creation of better inclusive environments in which we can expect to see increased student engagement.

However the viability of creating brand new learning spaces to meet these aims isn’t always feasible for all educational institutions, but doesn’t mean we can’t apply the same ideas to transform existing school spaces. Our new and exciting iwell furniture range allows you to do just that. idesign has been exploring and developing furniture pieces that each work specifically to enhance different modern learning styles, increase positive social interactions between students and collate to achieve inspiring and welcoming spaces! If you have a school interior project that you believe would benefit from our new product range or a wellbeing strategy we’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading Shannon Garvey, Education Design Expert!