The schools of the future will not be the monolithic, free-standing buildings of the past. Rather, they will be engaging structures that stimulated creativity and integrate into both the urban fabric and surrounding communities.
After all, we’re designing spaces for future leaders, entrepreneurs, and climate and social activists who need inquiry-based and experiential learning. All this requires a shift from relatively homogenous to highly diverse classroom design.
In partnering SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority) to design schools of the future, we’ll be referencing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, in designing three distinct envelopes of a school – classrooms, buildings, and boundary walls – in a multi-pronged design context for future generations.
Purposefully designed spaces are geared to create memorable experiences for students. Input from stakeholders is critical to uncover a community’s needs and wants, including those from school board members, administrators, teachers, students, government officials, education policymakers, parents, and other community members.
Such input can impact asset allocation and justify financial returns on the school’s investment. Schools present a unique opportunity to share significant public infrastructure and resources with local communities like libraries, auditoriums, or gyms by positioning them on central urban thoroughfares.
A collaboration between designers and stakeholders can essentially interlace residential neighborhoods with the community at large. Placing integrated amenities for different age groups helps make schools neighborhood centers rather than exclusive pavilions for children. Careful planning and site selection of schools may also foster collaboration and community service engagements with health and social agencies, museums, and art galleries.
Enabling digital future ready schools involves creative sessions, improved collaboration, enhanced connectivity, and customized lesson plans. Some aspects to keep in mind when designing schools of the future:
Keeping track of a school’s ecological footprint and adopting methods that reduce demand for natural resources and promote their efficient use supports sustainability. A thoughtful approach to designing a school of the future may be followed by utilizing passive daylight strategies and a reduction on per capita carbon emissions.
As learning methodologies evolve, so too do requirements for spaces. A school of the future caters to various aspects of the growth phases of a child along with learning abilities and flexibility towards various spectrums including special needs. While dedicated rooms work more effectively in facilitating learning for adults, a varied floor plan provides greater opportunities for children to engage in play-based learning.
A school of the future is designed as a living lab for the future, taking into consideration safety, durability, and resiliency. Climate change considerations and local and regional challenges are accounted for in the design along with designing memorable experiences for students to carry forward in the future workforce.
Every student is unique and variable. As designers for future schools, we aim to enhance their journey of discovery and exploration, celebrate their authenticity and optimize individual skills. Mutual trust and respect between instructors and learners along with individual and group development may be integrated in spatial design for various sized groups or different ages to foster growth, patience and interpersonal skills.
Learning happens best in an environment that promotes imagination, craftsmanship and achievements. The schools of the future must provide secure places that are welcoming, enjoyable, and inspiring to strengthen the overall teaching and learning experience. Schools can positively impact students’ mental health, physical health, and academic performances by incorporating natural elements into spaces.
Classrooms and communal spaces that have direct access to sunlight, green walls, natural materials, or smart space design can provide better outcomes for students.
Schools of the future are dynamic forums for interaction and exploration. Classroom designs support the interactive learning by seamlessly incorporating various means of audio-visual displays, the latest in hardware, software and lab facilities with built-in flexibility to allow for spaces to evolve as technology advances.
All in all, designing the schools of the future involves a major re-imagination of traditional schooling and puts teachers and students at the center, stressing transparency, flexibility, and cognitive adaptability. For instance, designs can incorporate elements like glass walls to facilitate openness and transparency; flexible seating and writable surfaces may encourage student and colleague collaboration; utilizing color psychology and easy-to-move furniture may allow adaptability of spaces over time.
Clever classroom designs offer adventure and the unexpected to foster creativity and self-discovery. Fuelled by rapidly evolving learning methodologies, a collaborative space will become a distinctive element in our school designs, and help empower future generations.