Flexible and multi-purpose spaces where you teach with well-being. School additional features

The physical environment in which the teaching and learning process takes place plays a role beyond providing functional space. The architecture of educational centers is also a factor that affects students’ development, their well-being or the way they interact.

In the opinion of Santiago Atrio, director of the School of Educational Architecture at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), “A school is not a building or a container of activities, but part of the educational content, and if we want to move forward “only technical compliance From, we must analyze how we use it, how that use evolves and what is the perception of users.” Something that creates a series of research that has not been considered so in the past, but in recent Nowadays it is attracting many interdisciplinary groups.

In this sense, although educational architecture has experienced a clear evolution over time – since the concept dates back to the 17th century – the most important changes have occurred recently, influenced by factors such as advances in pedagogy and technology, but its Reason also. Development of the society itself.

Indeed, as the architect Fermín Blanco, founding member of the Ludantia Association, has illustrated, “The functions developed in the public sphere in these decades are linked to that evolution. Thus, the dining room is gaining importance as a fundamental part of the centres, while access regulations have generated changes in the presence of ramps or lifts; “There has also been a big demand for covered slopes to protect from the sun.”

changing needs

As Blanco points out, an increasingly relevant trend is the search for flexible and multipurpose spaces that can meet the changing needs of students and teachers. Architect Gabriel Word also confirms this: “Given the tradition of unidirectional and hierarchical communication between teacher and student, new pedagogical methods of collaborative work, gamification, inverted classroom, competency-based education emerge …”. And while classrooms have been configured around these patterns, he points out, more is now demanded of them, which means better provision for spaces, “such as more connectivity or furniture that responds to that flexibility. “

“It is important to integrate humanizing design strategies that ensure connection, empathy, and dignity of your users,” says Patricio Martínez, founding partner of PMMT. Ensuring that “it is important to design taking into account all the senses that influence spatial perception, vision.” Hearing, smell, touch and thermoreception. In practice, this covers concepts such as natural lighting, ventilation, thermal control or acoustic conditioning, and influences aspects such as building materials, “for example, preference is given to interior finishes that emit volatile compounds.” Not going to do it.” Which affects the air.”

However, says Jesús Anaya, Doctor in Architecture, professor at the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University, academic centers in Spain still suffer mostly from an “institutionalized, quasi-ministerial design, governed by the standardization of modules.” of Madrid and head of Anaya Arquitectos Studio. “There is nothing to do with the most innovative trends in Northern Europe, as is the widespread and successful case of forest nurseries.” Within our limits, we find that the most widespread design parameters suffer from “dimensional generalization”, trying to universalize classrooms and spaces for collective use, which are more likely to be areas of circulation than areas of socialization and exchange. Designed more as. So much so that “many of these spaces are completely empty,” says Blanco. “Courtyards often have no seating to eat a sandwich and no shade.”

As a solution, Atrio proposes that “there be state regulations that unify requirements and recommend standards that seek to individualize the educational experience based on the geographic and social characteristics of their environment.” Royal Decree 132/2010, developed under Angel Gabilondo, establishes minimum requirements for educational centers and states “it was a success, but it needs to be updated.” In this sense, Manual of New Educational Architecture He suggests that the Junta de Galicia “is an example at the international level”.

digital transformation in the classroom

The impact of technology inspires new techniques and learning experiences, and also helps students learn to function in the digital world. Thus, “the educational architecture must take this into account to guarantee both the teaching activity and the well-being and health of the students,” says Maxime Torruella, founding partner of PMMT.
On the one hand, processes such as the integration of features and equipment into furniture or vertical walls are considered to “avoid additional stimuli and promote concentration”. Whereas, in terms of safety, the aim is to reduce electromagnetic fields through “bio-construction criteria, shielded cables or switches”. bioswitch, Likewise, it is important to control environmental humidity and avoid the use of materials that load easily, “such as plastics and synthetic fibers,” explains Torruella.
Although digitalization should be naturally integrated into the design, architect Gabriel Verd defends that “it cannot be the central theme of school planning; There was a time when if the classroom was not digitized it would become obsolete, hence the widespread adoption of digital whiteboards or pills, In contrast, new educational models have emerged, especially in ultra-technological regions like Silicon Valley, “which envisage zero digitalization,” he warns.

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