Concept: Schools

There was a time when classroom discipline was subject to strict rules. For hours on end, one had to sit still and concentrate on the blackboard – a nightmare for many children. With a new educational awareness, however, these rules have been reformulated. What has changed in everyday school life for our children? Nowadays, before exams, some teachers even distribute chewing gum, which, like background music, enhances concentration and receptiveness. We know, too, that it is an aid to learning when pupils fidget in their seats. In the past, movement was regarded as a disturbance, whereas today, it is a central feature of school life. Similarly, the frontal view of the blackboard – once the standard situation – is on its way out. How should the layouts of school buildings be planned, then, to take account of new teaching methods and the needs of children? How can architecture support the learning process?

In our September edition, we include different types of school building, where playing and learning, concentration and movement have been united in the spatial programme. Heide Wessely has compiled the examples for this issue and visited Frederiksbjerg Comprehensive School in Aarhus, Denmark. There, pupils are encouraged to climb, run and jump as part of their everyday school activities; and they are taught not just in classrooms, but in all kinds of locations that allow a flexible use. With a “house of learning” concept, on the other hand, Wulf Architects have developed a school type for the city of Munich, in which individual classroom modules are grouped together in variable clusters. In her article, Julia Liese shows how this spatial programme gives pupils greater autonomy.

In this issue of Detail, we present eight schools from different cultures, including China and Portugal, England and South Africa. One feature they all have in common are zones that encourage movement and activity – atriums or ramps, external areas or spacious corridors. There are many different forms in which architecture can meet the needs of everyday school life.
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