According to Prakash Nair, a futurist, a visionary planner and architect, and president of Fielding Nair International, one of the world’s leading change agents in both education and school design is the design of learning spaces. Redesigning schools for student-centred learning (SM 2016) and designing appropriate school facilities require variable sized spaces based on student needs.
The Best Schools in Spain highlight this matter, focusing their efforts on being in the vanguard and researching the most beneficial features for their students in terms of space composition.
Students spend over 11,000 hours of their life at school, so the facilities must necessarily be designed using pedagogical and neuroscientific criteria. As endorsed by the international scientific community and which nobody questions: the surroundings affect our brain and may help create a favourable emotional climate for students so that they feel acknowledged and safe within the classroom.
Space layout for schools
At the Best Schools in Spain, we believe that the classrooms (for formal teaching, although necessarily with an interdisciplinary approach), study rooms, laboratories and workshops must guarantee not only students’ individual work but also their team work.
We also know that redistributing the classroom (such as regularly changing the desk and chair layout) provides enormous cognitive benefits and combats physical inactivity at school.
Lighting, temperature and noise
Scientific studies show that classrooms with exterior views and proper natural lighting have a positive effect on students’ physical and emotional wellbeing, thus boosting their concentration levels. Fortunately, Spain is one of the European countries with the most hours of sunshine a year.
Other factors such as the temperature are also essential for the cognitive effects. It has been proven that the temperature ranged between 20ºC and 23ºC favours learning and relative humidity should be around 50%. In the field of languages and numbers, scientific studies show that the test results from pre-teens improved substantially when they studied with a temperature of 20ºC and ventilation levels increased.
Noise conditions also directly affected the students’ performance levels. Poor soundproofing harms the visual attention, reading and writing processes of preschoolers and the information retention processes of teenage students.
Consequently, we can conclude that the architecture, since it conditions the functioning, must be a central factor in the educational innovation process and is an essential feature in the renovation processes of educational spaces which become learning facilitators.
For the Best Schools in Spain, a smart classroom design is also a new teacher for the 21st century. The spaces shape and define us: together with the students and educators, they are the third teachers at our schools.