Psychology and neuroscience are revealing more and more about how our brains are affected by our surroundings and how the physical space we inhabit impacts our mood and our ability to learn and retain information.
Architecture for education
Many school buildings are very old, often dating back to Victorian times when education for all became popularised. Some, especially public schools and grammar schools, are even older, while others were built during the 20th century, particularly in the 1960s. Most of us are aware of how much education has changed since then and how different the teaching methods are nowadays compared to what many of us experienced in our youth. The architecture that was relevant yesterday is often obsolete today. These buildings will only be allowed to continue to educate children after certain companies such as keloscape who are a Fire risk assessment Bristol business come and check the safety of the premises. Architects who specialise in education buildings urge their clients to think outside the box when it comes to school building design. Some pioneering practitioners now offer bespoke education buildings. An interesting article on the Edutopia website recently detailed a number of studies that have uncovered how we respond to different types of spaces and how this research from psychologists can inform educational building design. For the full story, see Edutopia’s site.
The research discussed in this article explains how our brains respond positively to high ceilings and curved surfaces. These rooms facilitate visuospatial exploration, which puts us in a receptive mood, ready to learn. This makes sense; most people cannot help but feel a sense of wonder in a cathedral. Stress hormones like cortisol are triggered by enclosed spaces; you don’t have to suffer from claustrophobia to know that this is true.
The role of comfort and lighting
Students learn best where ergonomics have been geared in their favour. Comfortable seating, ambient temperature and lots of natural light have a huge impact on learning outcomes. Companies specialise in creating innovative and inspiring solutions for learning spaces, taking into account the latest research. The involvement of students and teachers who use the facility is essential during the planning stage; as their input is vital when it comes to the functionality of the classroom layout.
Important design features include the incorporation of mirrors to create the illusion of greater space and the reflection of natural light, along with the use of natural materials to promote a sense of calm. These are paramount to the creation of a perfectly tailored education space.