How to design a school building: “play and learn” spaces analysis with complete project drawing DWGs and a 3D model ready for download
In this blog article we will examine how to design a school building and provide a practical guide with essential technical aspects together with a project example.
For this reason we have selected a children day-care center built in Amburg for an in-depth technical characteristics review with project description and DWG CAD drawings that you can download for free. You can even download the project 3D BIM model with Edificius, the architectural design software, or navigate the model online, with no need for any addition software, using the BIM Voyager platform.
Designing a school building: school activities spaces
In the previous post we have introduced typical school environment describing a school hallway, classroom, toilet facilities, secretary and administration, teachers and auxiliary personnel’s rooms.
Let’s start off describing the classroom in more detail.
The classroom is no longer intended as the center of school with relating activities, but rather as a home-base that is modelled according to specific needs.
The environment characteristics are indeed determined by the type of activity that is carried out. Open spaces, interior areas, adaptable furniture, and mobile technologies are just a few examples of a new educational environment that requires a more comprehensive reorganization.
Other internal school spaces
Changing rooms must be distinguished according to users and sex.
There should be changing rooms for students, for teaching and administrative staff, for auxiliary and technical staff and changing rooms provided for the auditorium, for the gymnasium and other spaces for physical education.
The typology of the students’ changing rooms varies according to their age and must be designed as a sort of relational space.
First aid and emergency room
All schools must be equipped in case of first aid interventions with adequate equipments according to the size of the school.
The square is the place that hosts school public functions: meetings, parties, games, cultural exchanges. It is the most important symbolic element and the reference point for the distribution of the entire building.
Activities that usually take place in the Auditorium could be hosted in the square in case of smaller school buildings, while in case of larger buildings it is advisable to provide an equipped Auditorium or a Great Hall, with technical equipment for conferences, shows, meetings.
Therefore, precautions such as sound insulation, ventilation and artificial lighting are necessary to compensate for the lack of natural ones.
The Auditorium, which assumes the function of civic center, must comply with safety standards for places of public entertainment.
It is appropriate to provide a music room with recording instruments that is acoustically isolated, thus not causing any disturbance to other activities. The music room should be equipped with dedicated toilets and could also be used after school hours with civic center functions.
Kitchen and canteen
Meal preparation can take place in kitchens inside or outside the school building. The internal kitchen allows to provide a better food education for children and could become an atelier-laboratory for educational activities.
The kitchen needs to have independent entrance as well as changing rooms and staff services. It should consist of separate areas for washing and preparation of vegetables, meat, fish, and areas for special diets (for example, special foods for coeliacs), cooking area and dishes preparation, as well as an environment for washing the dishes.
Together with the kitchen it is necessary to prepare an area for students and teachers where to have lunch, that in small dimension schools can coincide with the square.
These are generic spaces equipped with special technology and furnishings. Ateliers are normally used for activities and expressive arts related to image, drawing, painting, sculpture, music, body movement and dance.
Systems “matrix” arrangement is necessary to guarantee space flexibility while facilitating electricity, water supply and drainage connections.
Ateliers also have a wide range of small storage areas to stock tools, activities works and specific materials.
Laboratories are spaces dedicated to specific activities and for this reason they should be provided with special equipment, such as science laboratories and computer science rooms. They are not always flexible spaces. There may include small spaces for individual processing activities and spaces for theoretical lessons.
Warehouses and archives
In addition to big-sized generic warehouses, each school must be equipped with a deposit for the material necessary for green areas and external area maintenance. The gym will have an equipment storage room proportionate to its size possibly connected with the gym area and easily accessible from the outside.
Suitable spaces must be provided for cleaning materials, trolleys, vacuum cleaners, cleaning machines; adequate spaces must also be provided for both physical and digital archives.
School building designs plans: informal learning spaces
These are spaces where the exchange of information takes place in an informal, unstructured way and the relationships created are spontaneous.
Students can study alone or in groups and consult teachers for advice in spaces that are mainly meeting places or studying, relaxing and playing areas. They are the natural extension of classrooms and ateliers.
Such spaces are common places without walls that delimit the border: they are equipped with chairs, worktops and furnishings, with a high acoustic and lighting quality.
Additional spaces for the civic center
These are spaces created to enrich the school civic center, such as bookshops, school supplies, cafeteria bars, sports or cultural clubs.
School building designs plans: sport and physical activities
Depending on the age and the number of students, the school must be equipped with adequate sports facilities for the development of the child’s motor skills through gymnastics, dance or sports activities that enrich the civic center function.
The gym could also host parties, assemblies, shows, so it should be connected to the Square space by means of sliding walls.
Different types could include:
- small gym for physical activities
- gyms for team games with amateur size fields
- equipped facilities suitably adapted for the practice of sports disciplines and team games. In this case it will be necessary to insert dedicated entrances and adequate sanitary facilities
- exercise sports facilities for regulated activities, support and preparation for competitive activities, equipped with small stands
- competitive sports facilities to allow official competitive activities in presence of the public, with adequate stands and toilets.
Accessibility for disabled users must be facilitated and guaranteed, verifying the absence of architectural barriers and providing a clear and easy paths organization, possibly characterized by appropriate measures for the visually impaired
As for the Auditorium, the gym premises must respect safety standards for entertainment and public venues.
In large school buildings projects a swimming pool could be designed, in compliance with all local and national regulations.
Designing a school building: external spaces
Open spaces design represents an integral part of the school buildings projects: a space must be maintained and equipped with lawns, plantings, educational gardens, storage areas for chairs and other equipment, games and free areas for recreation or experimentation.
Intermediate spaces, such as porches, loggias, winter gardens, sheds, gazebos etc. must be created to transit from interior to exterior spaces
Exemple of school building projects: the Troplo-Kids in Amburg
The Beiersdorf children’s day-care center “Troplo-Kids” in Amburg by Kadawittfeldarchitektur studio is a two-storey building located next to a green area within Beiersdorf AG city park in Amburg-Eimsbüttel.
The structure is rectangular, extremely compact and arranged around a two-storey central multipurpose room, serving as a playing and gathering area.
Characterized by a cantilever structure, the façade adapts to various functions and requirements as well as creating a light and transparent atmosphere inside.
Large windows offer the perfect conditions for playing and for the educational work
The colored frames shape and characterize the exterior facade, giving orientation to the children and a way to identify with their group. Inside, frames enrich the playing area with emotional elements, while integrating with platforms, boxes, spaces for sitting, climbing and playing, which are designed to stimulate children’s creativity and imagination.
The ground floor hosts the day-care center, the technical rooms and a large multi-purpose hall, that connects the upper level.
The first floor includes an additional space for the nursery, two kindergarten classrooms, the kitchen and a dining room, a workshop, a room for preschool activities and a meeting or recreation room for staff.
An elevator connects both levels, so the entire center meets the requirements of a barrier-free environment
The two-storey multi-purpose hall is the heart of the building.
The interiors are characterized by the bright colors of the façade frames, with references to selected pieces of furniture and furnishings.
The group rooms doors, for example, including the cubbies, have the same color as the cladding of the front of the room for better orientation inside the building. Each room is equipped with customized game furniture that resembles a large construction brick. Raised platforms, a corner for dolls and the game kitchen, slides, a comfortable cave, climbing structures and bridges are also characterized by the colors of the frames and the façade.
By playing, climbing and reaching different levels, children learn to live their environment from different perspectives.
The fenced outdoor play area is on the west side of the building and is divided into an area dedicated to children’s daycare and one of the kindergarten.
It is enriched by facilities for creative outdoor activities, green areas equipped with playground equipment, a sandpit with a wooden curb to sit on, a game table and a tunnel, climbing facilities, a mesh swing, rocking animals, a vegetable garden and a playhouse, a grassy mound with a built-in slide and the “mechanical telephone” (tin can phone) and a sculptural installation designed by the artist Fabian Wendling.
Have you seen the objects present within the projest?