A typical school is built to last. Programs and curricula can change in that time. Is it possible to accommodate these changes without making dramatic physical changes to the school building itself? Yes! The creative use of flexible furniture can be an economical way of manipulating a physical space.
If your programs or curriculum are changing and you have a need for space you didn’t have before, you can often adapt your use of furniture in classrooms, corridors, and common spaces to fill your additional needs.
Your Furniture Options
There’s a wide range of options available to you when looking at new furniture. Here is some of what is available to help you meet changes in the program or curriculum:
As the name implies, these adjustable-height tables allow for sitting in one period and standing in the next. These can allow classrooms to be configurable for different subjects or teaching methods.
Flip-top tables nest in small areas and are easily stored because they’re usually on casters. They’re great for large spaces that need to change immediately from large group instruction to open space.
Dividers offer the most flexibility when creating “zones.” This is ideal for rooms that need to support large group instruction as well as small group and individual instruction. Space dividers let you quickly and easily create zones for these different instruction styles.
This is an admittedly broad category that includes individual chairs, sofas, and more. It even includes chairs with tablet arms that can support certain types of individual study and other types of modern learning.
A variety of options work together to create flexibility. Booths offer quiet spaces to study, and counter-height tables and chairs provide space for collaborative learning. Many schools want flexibility in their facilities, particularly in the cafeteria, and creative use of furniture can achieve this.
The Process of Repurposing
The idea of using furniture to accommodate changing needs is all about repurposing what you already have. What does the process of repurposing education space look like?
1. Less Rigidity
To repurpose effectively, existing design elements must become more flexible and mobile. For example, avoid assigning desks to students. Instead of each desk having an owner, desks become neutral elements. If you don’t put a name on it, the space becomes more agile.
2. Staff Education
When furniture is used to create new spaces or develop additional curriculum opportunities, staff will need a bit of training. For example, if you have four different classrooms surrounding an extended learning area, teachers without proper training might view it as a supervision nightmare.
3. Power and Technology
When repurposing space, the hardest thing to pay attention to is the use of power and technology. The existing architecture must be manipulated, adding power where it didn’t exist before.
Once that’s accomplished, with the evolving world of technology and the more prevalent inclusion of tablets and devices, furniture and equipment can support more digitally-driven curriculums.
Are you interested in learning more about how CMBA architects and how we can help you repurpose your Education space? Click here to learn more!