Architecture and Learning
Designing and planning for an International School always means designing and planning a full-time school – in contrast to the half-day schools, still most common in most parts of Germany.
This implies arrangements for afternoon activities, including school catering, spaces for leisure and recreational use – both in- and outdoor – have a high priority. Creative activities in visual and performing arts departments have to be offered, and play a central role in a full-time school day just as physical education and sports do.
The changes we are facing in our increasingly fast-moving times necessitate life-long learning more than ever before. Full-time schools which allow students to discover their enthusiasm for learning are one of the answers.
A lot has been published on the design of full-time schools in recent years. In our view, the most essential principles are as follows:
Architecture influences our lives. The spaces in which we learn influence reflect on our behavior. The organization, structure and construction of a built environment have consequences for our perception and way of logical and methodical thinking.
All indoor spaces, from the classroom to the recreational areas, as well as the outdoor environment should make the students feel at home, to create a relaxed and comfortable learning and teaching atmosphere. Natural lighting, natural ventilation, good acoustics and good indoor climate play a key role in providing pleasant learning conditions.
It is also of great importance to provide different views and viewing angles. Views into nature and the environment, just as different viewing distances in a well-lit interior with different levels of privacy.
To provide a decent interior the choice of materials plays an important role. In our view simplicity is key. The use of basic materials like wood, steel, glass and brickwork leave space for the students‘ own creativity.
Furthermore, a school building has to be flexible enough to accommodate the latest findings from science and education. Nobody can foresee the state-of-the-art of education in twenty years, but the structure of the built environment has to allow for a flexible configuration of space.
Outdoor spaces have to be designed in harmony with the surroundings, the landscape and nature. Protected spaces allow the student to have relaxation phases in their – at times – stressful everyday school life.
Examples for school room windows with views into landscape. Maximum height to get as much daylight as possible.
images 1, 2: Library as workspace for afternoon activities – images 3, 4: central assembly room surrounded by classrooms
images 1, 6: lighted corridors and walls for exhibition – images 2-5: Performing and Visual Arts – examples for reducing corridor space in favor of main usable space
A curved shaped school building creates an interesting experience of spaces – Not yet defined faculty spaces prepared for small learning units with main stairs and adjacent areas
But keep in mind …
As mentioned before, nowadays there’s a tendency to transform conventional corridors into larger multipurpose areas. It is important to note necessary escape routes and fire protection must never be ignored, as the safety of students and teachers has the highest priority.
The creation of more collaborative work- and learning spaces should not be at the expense of quiet, noise-free areas, providing the students the possibility to have some privacy.
Not the most genius room layout or the most extravagant interior design can replace the educator – but architecture can give them a hand to facilitate their already challenging task and thereby provide a better education to the students.