The interior design of a school has a meaningful impact on everyone in the school. Whether or not it's a positive experience depends greatly on the quality of the decisions you make. Poorly thought-out K12 projects will negatively affect the lives of students and staff for a very long time. Since students spend a large portion of their days in school, the psychological affects of interior design is very real to them. In light of this, we'd like to cover some principles and design concepts that, if implemented, will greatly improve the psychological quality of your school.
Interior Design Isn't Just Decoration
This is a common misconception – interior design is much more than just decoration. The coverings, colors, and finishes you choose are important aspects of interior design, but far from its only characteristic. A good interior designer will first seek to understand student behaviors with the aim of creating functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces. The organization of movement is a good starting point, which can be achieved through basic layout manipulation – a key building block of any school's interior.
This division of space can be accomplished through walls, but also through furniture and even the creative use of objects. But the division of space isn't the only consideration...
Use of Furniture in Learning Environments
Furniture has a direct influence on the quality of any interior project. And it's the designer's job to ensure that the choices specified in the project will favor the routine functioning of the space.
This is especially important when it comes to busy classrooms; attention to the choice of each piece of furniture is paramount. In these situations, it's often more effective to design unique items to make the most efficient use of each square inch. Choosing more flexible and adaptable furniture can be a great option depending on the type of learning taking place.
Interior layouts are a powerful tool for shaping the interior of a school. You can control a design with the positioning of equipment, furniture, and objects. A proper distribution of these elements will organize the flow of your school, create places of permanence, and generate hierarchies of space.
In order to develop a good layout, the interior designer must, of course, consider accessibility standards, fire escape routes, and minimum dimensions for rooms. There is a vast amount of literature delineating the appropriate dimensions for each type of space use. The most essential thing to understand is, therefore, the needs of the space and its users in order to propose functional and appropriate layouts for each different scenario.
Comfort & Ergonomics
Comfort ranges from the aesthetics of the school, to its accessibility and application of technologies or passive strategies that facilitate and improve the quality of life for its students and staff.
How is the space visually perceived when inhabiting it? Its color, brightness, depth, and height will determine if it is detected as cozy, safe, stimulating, peaceful, flexible, or just the opposite.
Is it acoustically comfortable? Adequate acoustic treatment will allow teachers to easily communicate with students without having to raise their voices.
Although it may seem alien to K12 architecture, ergonomics is the discipline that helps us design schools that are well adapted to the physiological, anatomical, and even psychological characteristics of the inhabitants and users of each room. It constitutes the relationship between the artificial environment and the actions and behaviors of the human body and mind. Therefore, the level of success of good interior design is closely related to detailed ergonomic analysis.
Designing for Students & Staff
In the words of Dave Alan Kopec (a specialist in the field), psychology of space is essentially "the study of human relations and behaviors within the context of the built and natural environments." And we tend to agree with him. Although a definition like this can feel overwhelming. In the end, we think it's simply about designing spaces that your students and staff actually enjoy spending time in. If you can do that, everything else will fall into place.