We have expounded on the research works that correlate the school architecture with pedagogy and learning outcomes in our previous article. In this article, I wish to provide more insights into the demands of 21st Century School Architecture.
Are there any Templates of School Architectural Design?
This is indeed a tricky question, as our answer, which is a No, sounds counterintuitive given there is a body of overwhelming physical evidence to the contrary.
We are surrounded by schools which looks as alike as military bunks, irrespective of the scale. These models of monotony were, and are, seen as pragmatic and economical templates hence replicated ad nauseum. We are all too familiar with the learning outcomes that resulted. We definitely do not have enough evidence to show that these school buildings—that looked like assembly line reproductions—caused dismal attendance, enrolment and poor results, but we do have studies that show that they contributed to them significantly.
One may argue that we are talking about government schools. We are, but not exclusively. There are enough private schools that are only slightly, if at all, better than their government counterparts.
We have stepped into the digital age quite a while back and we are privy to the radical shift in the attitudes and ambitions of the millennial generation and resultant change in the scope of the curricula.
If we are contending for becoming global players in education, we have to remodel our attitude towards school architecture which we mindlessly place at the backseat. We have to redefine school architecture across the scale. Fortunately, there are exemplars of this trend where the budget of the school promoters did not hinder the visionary school architects from coming up with exquisite original designs that caused a shift, however eventual, in the paradigm.
There is an inspiration in these models of innovation but they are not templates nor should they be viewed as such.
A school architect must view a school in its entirety, that naturally incorporates the school design and come up with a master plan that can accommodate an educational ecosystem which is nurturing, a far cry from an expedient assemblage of bricks and mortar.
Towards Progressive School Architecture
Progressive school architecture can be an amalgam of modern, traditional, ethnic or vernacular architecture. It certainly requires a vision that is enlarged by experience.
In shaping impressive school learning center, we must understand the view of the traditional work done, and focus on creating interactive learning environments that can harness the possibilities of space-planning.
It is essential to have flexibility in design and plasticity to accommodate technology that is increasingly becoming the defining feature of modern pedagogy.
How ideal school architecture needs to be?
Researches have concluded that school architecture and its infrastructure can play a key role in refining the value of education in schools. In effect, learning spaces should necessarily be collaborative and sustainable, flexible in nature, and filled with natural light.
Educational architecture needs to aim at adding value through revisiting old, incumbent settings to make the spaces for broader visions of 21st-century education. Let’s imagine a school consisting:
These are some of the value-added features you will find in many modern schools across the world.
Contemporary School Architectural Framework
In this day and age, every corner of the school needs to be designed to contribute to modern learning. For instance, corridors are being broadened to become wings of the classroom, staircases are turning into seating space, and walls throughout the designed architecture are getting doubled as writing surfaces or showing Wi-Fi-enabled digital displays.
School architecture has that ability to connect with all students very closely by providing a building that can help students in getting involved. This is of course not achieved in a silo but in coordination with the school interior designers.
The purpose that an original architectural design can serve is no less than inspiring educators to use the infrastructure as a consequential learning tool.
The teacher’s educational philosophy can get reflected in the layout of the school education settings. For instance, the faculty, teaching a certain discipline, can resolve the hindrances that appear in the way of interactive arrangement through configuring the seating apparatuses and achieve educational goals.
In the contemporary setting, it is indeed advisable to the architects that they focus on facilitating an environment-friendly school design and plan a school architecture that is energy efficient “green buildings”.
As a part of the landscape, experts need to concentrate on adding the green space in design which can serve as a place of relaxing for students and they are expected to create interactive learning pattern to empower the children’s mental growth.
School architecture secures unimagined decorum for educational ecosystem when it expresses creative spark in design and helps the children in enjoying education. Architects are supposed to be passionate about designing the iconic structure for the schools in society- the pillar of the nation.
School architecture should at least possess potentials like —explorations, opportunities, evolved awareness—and a step in the precise course could yield impressive results and maybe help in discovering what earlier generations have missed.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.
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