If you had a blank canvas to design your ideal school, what would you paint?
Schools are challenged to fill many important roles today. They must provide stimulating education to promote critical thinking, creativity and measurable academic success. They must create warm, welcoming environments that are safe and sustainable.
They must balance students’ physical and emotional wellness while inspiring them to reach their goals. All within strict budgets and timelines.
Do school administrators, teachers and facilities managers ever get the chance to ask themselves: What will the schools of the future look and feel like…if I could design them without any limits?
We asked a group of decision makers this question. Their vision was inclusive of these
four elements: Community, Environment, Innovation and Wellness.
School design must involve both the internal (students, faculty, parents)
and external (district, municipality, taxpayers) communities. The school is
part of its community, and also serves as its students’ own mini-community:
it is another home, a welcoming place where they forge peer networks and
nurture their dreams. Students should feel connected to their school the
moment they walk through the doors—it is their community.
A successful school design incorporates elements of sustainability,
persevering and protecting the environment while giving students
the tools to be productive. That may mean energy-saving lighting, sensible
waste management or flooring that can be cleaned with water, not harmful chemicals. Sustainability is the ideal for today’s schools, because we must protect the environment for our students’ future.
Technology is rapidly changing, and schools must keep up. This requires
investment, upgrades, careful planning and flexible educational spaces – including wayfinding elements and creative use of color to guide learning without the need for physical dividers. Innovative school spaces are teaching tools.
Students need a safe, healthy and welcoming school. Their surroundings
must be comfortable, inviting and clean, but also truly protective of their
well-being every single day. Lighting, calming or uplifting colorways, open
classrooms and soft, inviting flooring can make students feel safe, welcome,
protected and inspired. Wellness in our built environment supports
students’ physical, emotional and mental health.
Building on these elements and designing with these in mind, schools today will become successful Schools of the Future.