April 2020

Designing, Educating, Learning

By 
Alex Raher

Schools and Nurseries should be more than just spaces to learn – they should inspire a new generation and be designed from a child’s perspective on the world.

The #greatschools campaign, published in 2015 by Hawkins/Brown, argues that “Architects can help provide the best school buildings for future generations to learn in”. The research explores both public and private sector development of new schools and nurseries, and the benefit Architects can provide through intelligent, considered and positive design solutions for educational spaces.

New build construction can be expensive and resource heavy, and they argue ‘careful adaptation of existing buildings’ is a better long term strategic, cost effective and sustainable approach for new educational facilities.

Designing for schools presents a unique set of challenges, and also opportunities for creative and inspirational design responses. The children’s perspective on scale, form, interaction, colour and texture is a great starting point, and they are the primary users. The ‘secondary users’ might be considered as all staff, parents, administrative and office workers, but are still fundamental to the operation of the school or nursery. The challenge is to maximise the efficiency of the space to work for both sets of users – creating inspiring and engaging spaces that allow the children to positively grow and develop through the teaching programme.

“All children attend school for longer than a government is in power, and their educational experience often spans changes in pedagogy and policy”

#greatschools campaign, Hawkins/Brown, 2015.

Key to all educational facilities is the pattern of use throughout the day – and we can look at an early years nursery school as an example of these particular requirements. Each class has patterns of sleep, learning, story time and play time – uniquely set up for their age group. External space should be accessible and engaging – who doesn’t remember the buzz of activity when the school bell rings for playtime – a simple, and exciting sound to a child. The flow of the space, and the sight lines to all areas of the classroom are very important – keeping a watchful eye over the children while learning and playing.

No items found.
April 2020

Designing, Educating, Learning

By 
Alex Raher
No items found.

Schools and Nurseries should be more than just spaces to learn – they should inspire a new generation and be designed from a child’s perspective on the world.

The #greatschools campaign, published in 2015 by Hawkins/Brown, argues that “Architects can help provide the best school buildings for future generations to learn in”. The research explores both public and private sector development of new schools and nurseries, and the benefit Architects can provide through intelligent, considered and positive design solutions for educational spaces.

New build construction can be expensive and resource heavy, and they argue ‘careful adaptation of existing buildings’ is a better long term strategic, cost effective and sustainable approach for new educational facilities.

Designing for schools presents a unique set of challenges, and also opportunities for creative and inspirational design responses. The children’s perspective on scale, form, interaction, colour and texture is a great starting point, and they are the primary users. The ‘secondary users’ might be considered as all staff, parents, administrative and office workers, but are still fundamental to the operation of the school or nursery. The challenge is to maximise the efficiency of the space to work for both sets of users – creating inspiring and engaging spaces that allow the children to positively grow and develop through the teaching programme.

“All children attend school for longer than a government is in power, and their educational experience often spans changes in pedagogy and policy”

#greatschools campaign, Hawkins/Brown, 2015.

Key to all educational facilities is the pattern of use throughout the day – and we can look at an early years nursery school as an example of these particular requirements. Each class has patterns of sleep, learning, story time and play time – uniquely set up for their age group. External space should be accessible and engaging – who doesn’t remember the buzz of activity when the school bell rings for playtime – a simple, and exciting sound to a child. The flow of the space, and the sight lines to all areas of the classroom are very important – keeping a watchful eye over the children while learning and playing.

Safeguarding is a big consideration for nurseries and early years foundation stage (EYFS) - ensuring that all classrooms are secure, safe and not overlooked from the exterior. Keeping safe, whilst maintaining the feeling of openness, light, and spatial freedom that children love to engage with. The natural flow of a space is important, but equally it must be safe, secure, comfortable and reassuring.

Designing for EYFS challenges your perception of scale and proportion. Furniture, fixtures, lighting, joinery and windows all take on a different quality when reduced in scale, or lowered in height. Interaction with other children is encouraged by adding small seating areas, pause points or educational zones to delineate the space.

“Creatively designed, good quality educational spaces are essential for children’s futures.”

The teachers, staff and adults in the building are constantly involved throughout the day. Teaching zones also provide inspiration for the teachers in how they can structure the day, and can provide stimulus or downtime – depending on how the teacher wants to use the space. Adaptability is key to the operation of a successful school or nursery.

The role of an Architect is to bring all these requirements together in the brief, and develop a design proposal that not only provides a functional and practical solution for the space, but one that inspires, delights and awakens curiosity for the smallest up to the tallest people who use it everyday.

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