"Education Spaces will never be the same again..."
Schools and Universities are opening up around the country and it’s safe to say that we’re all a little nervous. Designers across the globe are exploring how the educational landscape must adapt and change.
Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture (CLTH) has imagined a new design approach for classrooms when schools reopen in the UK. The architecture practice based in London has released an innovative concept “to help mitigate restricted circulation routes within schools and maintain the necessary social distancing among pupils and staff”.
CLTH has addressed the challenges of social distancing and safety in these establishments. In fact, the proposal presented is a temporary vision aiming to “help liberate existing internal school space taking the pupil load off circulation areas, but also enhance air-flow contributing to individuals’ wellbeing”.
Dubai-based studio Roar has forecasted various ways that Covid-19 will impact the design of schools and colleges, including a rejection of "vanity projects" and the introduction of WeWork-style classrooms.
In the short-term the report states that the challenge for designers is to accelerate the capacity of schools and colleges by re-structuring existing classrooms to accommodate less children, or repurposing non-teaching spaces such as gyms and canteens.
In extreme cases, designers could create modular, pre-fabricated classrooms that would be built in just a few months at a relatively low cost.
Age-appropriate graphics could also be added to the floors and walls to remind children to wash their hands and maintain social distancing rules, such as the work by UNIT Fabrications who have developed indoor screens and colourful, vinyl wayfinding markings on the floors and walls.
Both designers and teachers believe that schools and colleges could benefit from WeWork-type co-working spaces, including quiet pods for studying, one-on-one meeting spaces and small breakout areas.
This is a response to the change in pedagogy due to the coronavirus. As many students have had to adapt to virtual styles of learning, Roar's report predicts that schools will hold onto this by incorporating part-digital-part-physical teaching methods.
The roar report also suggests creating "cool" social spaces for older students. "Somewhere they can make and imprint those memories with their friends – even though we have Covid, it shouldn't rob them of that," explained one panelist.
While this is a scary and unprecedented time, seeing how our architecture community has jumped in to attempt to create spaces where we feel safe and comfortable is giving us much needed hope.