The pandemic presented unique challenges for students, teachers, and school leaders. School districts not only had to figure out how to ensure quality education in a virtual format, but they also had to rethink physical learning spaces and overall instructional design.
In today’s educational settings, safety is front and center. However, current school design trends still highlight comfort and foster feelings of community and school spirit. After all, the physical and visual experience that an educational institution offers significantly affects how well a student socializes, learns, and finds inspiration to create.
Here are some of the biggest trends that have emerged in the last couple of years.
#1. Wellness Centers
Many school administrators are now taking a holistic approach to education by building healthier schools. Part of this approach involves offering students — especially those with sensory issues who may find it challenging to focus with external stimuli — a place where they can calm their minds and bodies.
A wellness center is a space where a healthcare provider such as a nurse or therapist can help a student process the challenges they’re currently facing. It’s a positive space where students can de-escalate aggressive behavior, destress, and redirect their energy into more positive pursuits.
#2. Intentional Color Use
The right paint color can liven up a space. Schools and colleges today intentionally use color to achieve various purposes, including wayfinding, providing safety guidelines, delivering important announcements, and serving as physical distancing cues.
In addition to the functions mentioned above, designers are incorporating certain colors to invoke emotions or promote specific objectives. For instance, reds, oranges, and yellows help stimulate viewers and energize a space. On the other hand, greens, purples, and blues help calm and provide comfort.
#3. Flexible Learning Spaces
Most people think of multi-use spaces when flexibility is mentioned. However, flexible learning environments are more than just classrooms that can instantly transform into studios, or gyms that double up as lunch halls.
A truly flexible learning space doesn’t just take into account the choice of furniture or the physical floor plan. Instead, it integrates other aspects such as the time spent to learn or how students are grouped during classes. Here are some examples:
- Some educational institutions, for instance, have introduced zoning into their design. Instead of labeling certain spaces as classrooms or study areas, some schools have found it more productive to reframe these areas as zones.
- Some schools have transitioned to movable desks for their students. These desks-on-wheels can be easily arranged for both individual and group study. Some of these desks may also have whiteboard surfaces to encourage creativity and collaboration among the students.
- Other recent additions are ergonomic chairs that include swinging footrests. Students can use these footrests as outlets for excess energy so they can concentrate more during lectures.
- Studies show that students learn best when their seating arrangement is taken into account, so many schools are avoiding static seats. They provide various types of furniture, and students are given the option to sit where they feel most comfortable.
#4. Eco-Friendly Spaces
Many educational institutions place importance on certain values that they would want their students to embrace, so it makes sense that environmentalism and sustainability are major design concerns.
Here are some of the ways that schools and colleges are keeping their interiors green:
- Install plants and living walls to improve air quality and productivity
- Build indoor/outdoor functional spaces
- Use sustainable furnishings and finishes
- Choose products that are energy-efficient such as LED lights or engineered hardwood
#5. Tech Integration
Technology is a critical component of today’s modern classroom. Students use mobile devices and computers to create and learn, so learning space design should be able to support tech advancements.
For example, some desks have built-in electrical outlets. Some schools also use walls that double up as whiteboards or projector screens. Some may also feature huddle spaces with convenient seating and sharing software.
Designing or Renovating a Learning Space? Contact Us Today
Creating school spaces where students and staff alike feel safe and valued is essential for supporting social-emotional learning. The changes that have been implemented because of the pandemic are a great start to creating a better educational experience for all.
If you’re getting ready to design a new space or remodel an existing one, we can help. At T2B Interiors, we offer beautiful and practical interior design solutions to help you create an impactful learning environment.
Contact us today to learn how you can make your learning spaces come to life.