A school is often so connected with education, learning and curriculum that a very important and crucial aspect is missed out. That is the design and construction of the building that is also an integral part of the learning process. It plays a vital role in mind and psyche development and is often directly linked to the expansion of mental faculties of children. This is one reason why managements of both public and private schools focus so much on construction and designs of new schools and renovation of existing ones.
All over the world, psychologists work closely with builders and designers to build schools that foster a high level of leaning. This goes a long way to prove that education is not only about grades and specific teaching tools. The environment that students stay in throughout the day also matters a lot. Studies have also shown that schools that have an open-ended environment, one that is in close contact with nature and the world outside have students who are more receptive to the learning process. Innovative school buildings have got nothing to do with the passion for education; it is entirely related to all round maturity of children not cooped up in dingy school buildings.
All these factors point to the importance of engaging specialised school builders for any new project. These are firms that know about the psyche of students as well as parents and thereby design schools accordingly. Many parents for instance are wary of schools that stretch right from kindergarten to high schools. The very thought of hulking teens in middle or high school sections dominating over little kids in primaries can be overwhelming. The trend therefore in innovative school designs is to segregate sections so that children and teens of the same maturity levels can intermix freely. However, this is not possible always as this concept requires huge areas that not all school committees or boards can afford.
If an innovative process has to be initiated for building schools, traditional management goals have to be junked, albeit partly at least. These usually consist of schedules for construction, budget and efficiency. It can kill innovation totally and make way for the same stereotyped school models. This is especially true for public schools that have numerous push and pulls to contend with not least having to meet political expectations and deadlines and to fill up a certain number of seats in a given time frame.
Additionally, the more innovative is the design the greater is the construction time. A company specialising in solid plastering in Melbourne for example will take more time to complete a project if the designs are intricate and the walls and ceilings have to be plastered in floral patterns.
Here are a few innovations in school designs that are currently trending today.
The first is building green and sustainable schools that seek to blend in harmoniously with nature. Some of the techniques that are integrated in this type of construction include water harvesting, computer generated lighting and optimised heating and cooling systems. One advantage here is that children from a very young age are made aware of the necessity to save the environment from the effects of pollution and global warming.
There is a mistaken notion that innovative designs in school building construction cost more than conventional structures. That it is not true is proved by the design of Rosa Parks School in Portland, Ore. There is a large common hall in the middle with four clusters or modules grouped around it, something on the lines of “neighbourhoods” clustered around a large community field. The interior walls are transparent and enable all students regardless of the class they are in to feel connected with each other. Large windows with mountain views add to the overall school experience.
Another example is of the High Tech High Chula Vista near San Diego. It is definitely a unique concept with walls that are large expanses of glass. The partitions can be moved when needed if teachers want to readjust class rooms according to their needs or to make a common area for a cultural evening programme.
These are some of the innovative school c construction ideas that are showing the way for others to follow.