Increasingly we are getting enquiries from schools and being asked to design classrooms and learning areas. When designing a classroom we tend to approach it slightly different to the way we design an office as a classroom functions differently to an office. There are also different considerations when designing for a nursery compared to a primary school or a secondary school.
Our clients tend to focus on two criteria, firstly is practicality. A classroom must be practical – there must be enough seating for the students and large enough desks and tables for them to complete their work. There must be storage for all the resources involved in teaching the class and for those resources to be organised well. There must be sufficient light for the students to work and the fittings need to be robust and easy to clean.
Secondly our clients want the classrooms in their schools to be inspirational. Gone are the days when lines of wooden desks and a blackboard at the front served as a ‘classroom’. Classrooms now should be dynamic, inspirational places which encourage learning. Recently a kindergarten design in Tokyo by Takaharu Tezuka made headlines for the extraordinary ideas incorporated into the scheme. The roof of the school featured a running track, trees could be found growing through the ceiling and areas of purposefully uneven floors were created to help children improve their balance. The benefits of trees and the outdoors/nature is one that Dr Marc Nieuwenhuijsen pioneers having researched the effect on children and learning he concludes that nature, trees, plants and flowers all help to boost a child’s cognitive development. Schools are increasingly trying to educate children outside and where possible bring a sense of the outside in when designing their educational spaces. A school in Denmark has taken this to the extreme by creating a school with very few walls, textbooks and boards, the idea being that this free flowing school environment will help to hone the student’s concentration skills.
Some of the more adventurous classroom designs are unlikely to fit in with most of the spaces available to our local nurseries, primary and secondary schools, however, we are constantly trying to use our design expertise to lift traditional classrooms and educational spaces into well designed, stylish spaces. We are always on the lookout for new products and ideas to incorporate into our classroom designs to make the spaces more inspiring and adaptable to different learning styles.
Here are our top 10 products for use in classrooms:
1.Storage walls – Teaching uses copious amounts of resources, storage walls provide the perfect way to store them in an organised and safe way. When the doors are shut you can maintain a clean and clear style to the room and prevent distraction. The doors can be covered in whiteboard material so they can be written on as well.
2.Gratnell trays – Another storage solution that can be used within the storage wall or separately. Trays come in a wide variety of sizes and colours making organisation easy and accessible.
3.White Rock panelling – we have recently used this in the classrooms at Streatham and Clapham High School. The surface is wipe clean and can be used on walls to ensure the walls are kept clean and hygienic.
4.Flip desks – These can be used in IT suites or just ordinary classrooms. They enable students to use a computer and then flip it over to become a normal desk once the computer work is finished. Perfect for ensuring students stay on task but still have access to IT.
5.Tamper proof desks – safe furniture particularly for younger children as they have no loose parts or components.
6.Flotex flooring – a vinyl and carpet mix which is soft but can be easily cleaned and even mopped if necessary. A particularly good product for nurseries.
7.Anti –graffiti paint – unfortunately wear and tear is inevitable in schools and our clients often ask us if there are any ways to prevent vandalism of the new classroom. This paint will stop children from drawing on the walls and preserve the new decoration.
8.Dura hooks – another fantastic product for nurseries. Pointed up and inwards as opposed to outwards so that children cannot injure themselves on them. They are also extremely robust and durable so if a child does decide to try swinging from them they will not break.
9.Sound absorbent panelling – particularly good for drama and music classrooms which might disturb other classrooms around this panelling will keep the sound in the room you want it to be in.
10.Solid laminate – Another extremely robust material which we are tending to incorporate into areas where students are perhaps being isolated from the other students. We find the solid laminate works well as can’t be defaced.
If your classrooms or nursery space could do with a redesign please contact us today to see how can help you to teach and inspire the children you are working with.