Five Essential Design Features for Learning

Our design solutions seek to transform the education experience, which begins with understanding emerging design trends for learning. We share five essential design features to consider when creating safe, secure, and comfortable learning environments.

Adaptable Spaces Focused on the Future
Curiosity is grown, developed, and fostered in educational settings. The ability to give students the space to explore that curiosity and create life-long learners is our number one goal as a design firm. Like many teachers and staff members, we feel it’s essential to look past the traditional classroom with rows of single desks. Modern teaching trends focus on finding multiple ways to engage students in their individual, preferred instruction methods to reach all students more effectively. It is essential that the learning environment can meet those goals.

Our recent projects have met the need for spaces that can quickly and efficiently transform to change the classroom or collaboration spaces. Students and staff alike must be mobile and need the flexibility to alter their learning environments to accommodate various daily needs. Additionally, we have worked with educators to incorporate various aspects of the modern workplace environment into learning environments. These modifications in 21st-century learning spaces are also designed to be “future-proof” classrooms, ensuring that as the educations landscapes and learning trends evolve, the spaces will promote that growth.

Student Well-being and Academic Success
Studies have shown that the experience of positive emotions increases creative thinking and problem-solving abilities in students, which is enormously influential in the context of educational environments. The higher the level of intrinsic motivation, the greater a student’s involvement in their school, which directly equates to enhanced academic achievement levels. The design of the educational environment can significantly impact the student experience, which is why we know that it is essential that students form an emotional connection with their school.

High school dropout rates are highest in locations where the student does not have at least one significant adult relationship or a “place” where they feel comfortable. Therefore, we not only work to create buildings that elicit a sense of pride in the users but also spaces within the building where students feel free to be themselves.

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We ensure we are creating those spaces by talking directly to your students to gauge their wants and needs. For example, before starting the Byron Center High School’s recent redesign, we surveyed students to understand their school experience better. When asking the question, “where do you go when you need to be alone?” we were shocked to find that most respondents answered, “the restroom.” It was an important indicator for us to recognize that we needed to create spaces throughout the building where students could have a moment to themselves. As students have begun to occupy the building, we’ve repeatedly heard that one of their favorite features of the renovated space is the increase in soft-seating and rest spaces.

It takes all the moving parts and pieces of a design, including beautiful materials, colors, and lighting, to create environments that foster curiosity and school pride, calm tensions, and allow learning to occur. TowerPinkster has studied the impact of acoustics, temperature control, colors and finishes, ergonomics, furnishings, and lighting on student achievement. We recognize that it is challenging for students to learn if their environment is distracting and impossible to concentrate. However, the physical and emotional well-being of your students precedes learning.

Master Planning
The planning for your project begins with a master plan for the building(s) and sites. Our team’s initial goal is to determine where future additions and renovations would occur. This will avoid the problem of “painting you into a corner.” It will also help us avoid removing items (like parking lots or additions) in the future. We will also plan flexibility and adaptability into every space so that future curriculum and technology changes can be easily accommodated. And finally, we will work to ensure that spaces can accommodate various uses so that flexibility will remain at a very high level.

Technology Interface
Students as young as kindergarten use computers in the classrooms as learning aids. All designs must support flexibility for technology and accommodate the ever-increasing need for wireless access. Technology must be versatile, adaptable, and accessible. Our technology and electrical engineering team will work closely with your staff, technology director, and your technology consultant (if required) to provide the best possible environment for using and mastering these systems while incorporating technology into furnishings.

Safety and Security
The number one goal for every project is to provide a safe learning environment. Until your students feel welcome and safe at school, they will not be truly ready to learn. Safety is analyzed from the moment of arrival at the site through entering and “zoning” the spaces for the school day and after-school use. This is a standard in all of our projects. School construction renovation projects require a higher level of safety for your students. We will work closely with the building principals and contractors to design and plan how the renovations will occur. Exit access, construction phasing, secure staging areas, and minimizing disruption will be analyzed. Our designers have studied CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) and are trained on school safety designs and considerations.

Our design solutions seek to transform the education experience, which begins with an understanding of emerging design trends for learning. We share five essential design features to consider when creating safe, secure, and comfortable learning environments.