November 13, 2019

3 Mistakes to Avoid in School Design

3 Mistakes to Avoid in School Design

Posted by CMBA Architects on Nov 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM

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It's good to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in K12 design. Trends can serve as a guiding or inspirational force on your design decisions. And they can help keep your space relevant by giving you a better understanding of the direction that education is headed. But it's easy to focus too much on the do's than the don'ts – to get distracted by all the shiny objects and cool ideas, while glazing over the not-so-glamorous principles of school design that will ultimately make or break your space. So today we're going back to the basics and covering 3 mistakes you should avoid in your K12 architecture.

1. Don't Follow Trends Blindly.

There's a time and a place for trends – but it's important that trends aren't making your design decisions for you. First be aware of your own unique set of needs. Then look to trends. It's easy to look at the top architecture trends and throw them into your designs. However, you can't use trends as a replacement for good judgment. Just because it's working for someone else, doesn't mean it's going to work for you. We suggest that you first look to your students and school culture to decide what sorts of perks and trends you could deliver through your design to most benefit your students. Of course there's nothing wrong with staying up-to-date with the latest trends – just don't let them make your decisions for you.

2. All Space Should be Usable.

Never sacrifice functionality for aesthetics. Real estate isn't cheap, so why create a learning space that doesn't maximize its usability? Of course you want your spaces to look nice, but you should never have to give up functionality for design. An ideal design will balance the two. If your ultimate goal is to improve student productivity and wellness, then it only makes sense that you'll need to find a middle ground between aesthetics and functionality. If you design with wellness and quality of learning in mind, these decisions will feel very natural.

3. A Design Element is not a Strategy.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the physical elements of K12 design and begin listing off all the interesting, exciting aspects of other schools you've seen. But a design element doesn’t define your overall strategy. It's a good idea to first start with the strategies and goals you want your school to meet. Then move on to how physical elements can help facilitate those goals. We're not suggesting you ignore ideas you like, but before you make any concrete decisions, decide whether or not it serves your overall strategy. For example, if one of your strategies is to increase student productivity and wellness, a corresponding design element might be big, beautiful windows in classrooms.

What are the major goals you want your school to achieve? Think about those things first, and stem the design decisions from there. This way every design element supports your higher level goals and sets you up for success.

Staying True to Your Needs

These may not be groundbreaking discoveries, but following these principles will help ensure your designs stay on the right track and your school meets your needs, not somebody else's. If you're interested in learning more or want to talk with someone about your future needs, get in touch with us today! We'd love to discuss your vision.

Topics: K12-General