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SHAPING THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION DESIGN

It’s important for every student to feel inspired within an educational space. Interiors have been proven to impact children’s attitudes and positively influence learning.

There are several trends currently shaping the future of educational facilities internationally and most of them are starting to make their way in to educational facilities in the Middle East.

- Image Courtesy of Khalifa University

Yasmin article 4

BRIGHT AND VIBRANT COLOUR SCHEMES

It’s no secret that bright colours induce creativity, but they are so much more. Colour can impact emotions and focus.

Incorporating a bright colour scheme in a classroom not only helps children understand colour, it can create positive associations with school subjects (especially among students in their early learning stages e.g. elementary school).

Pops of colour on walls, in classrooms and in playgrounds make all the difference in the feel of a building and learning environment. Colour helps define a room’s purpose (e.g. for studying or relaxing in) and helps students get in to the right mindset from the moment they step in to it.

Brightly-coloured environments also help students understand how certain areas of a room are used i.e. zoning. It’s important to note that reds and oranges can overstimulate students so colour selection is very important. Greens and blues are probably most popular because they are more calming and have been proven to induce feelings of happiness and comfort.

Introducing splashes of colour by incorporating brightly-coloured furniture does not have the same effect as the use of a colour on a wall so opting for elements like yellow chairs will help in the creation of a vibrant colour scheme.

BRIGHT OPEN SPACES

Sunlight has become a major focus for a large number of schools. This doesn’t come as a surprise given the number of studies published which put forward that natural light affects motivation, mental alertness and student health. As such, making sure natural light is visible to students in a classroom has become a vital part of education facility design.

A study carried out on whether children scored better on tests in naturally lit classrooms vs artificially lit ones revealed a 25% improvement in test scores when exams were taken by students in naturally lit spaces. Interestingly, a significant amount of research has shown students read faster in classrooms that are lit naturally.

- Image Courtesy of Khalifa University

Natural light is most commonly incorporated into open spaces (which have their own set of benefits) – or can also be achieved by introducing additional or larger than average windows. Moving away from the standard rectangular shaped four walls and using larger open spaces makes it easier to incorporate additional light and can also aid in the development of social skills given the larger area in which to interact in.

Schools and even universities in the Middle East are starting to adapt to these trends. For example, Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi opened up an extension in 2017 which includes open spaces with ceiling to floor windows, making it a bright space for studying.

SUSTAINABILITY

The introduction of natural elements is becoming more prevalent in education design (such as increasing exposure to natural light as discussed above). Another popular trend is: plants – both inside and outside the classroom. Living plants can boost moods, productivity and improve air quality.

For students in elementary schools, plants can add to the learning experience. Growing fruits and vegetables or planting a seed and watching it germinate are all tools that aid in learning and there’s also an element of learning about taking care of and nurturing another living being. It’s not just flora that can contribute positively to an educational facility but also furniture inspired by nature. 

Wooden furniture has become a zero waste industry (meaning that every stage of the production process can be reused and repurposed). It’s also extremely durable and lasts a long time, making it the strongest building material on the planet, perfect for schools as they can have multiple lifetimes over the years (through refinishing).

I’ve also noticed that as climate change becomes a hot topic, some schools have introduced solar panels in to their facilities and taken measures to reducing their waste consumption through recycling and cutting down on waste in general. It will be interesting to see how these measures take shape in the Middle East over the next 10 years or so.


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