The new education environment

On 31 May 2021

The way the education environment is shaped has a big influence on the performances and the well-being of students and teachers. But where does the education environment of today need to comply to? What are important topics and issues at the moment? And what does the education environment of the future look like? LEOXX in conversation with Hans Bosman, facilities manager at Hotelschool The Hague, Jos Hermans, (interior) architect at RoosRos Architecten and Peter Heuzinkveld, interior architect and owner of Tektor interieur & architectuur.

Flexibility of rooms

One of the topics all parties see happening, partly influenced by the corona virus, is the flexibility and adaptability of rooms. Jos Hermans: “Mainly over the last three-quarter year we have an increased demand concerning the flexibility of rooms. The need to adapt the building to the moment and later on back to a post-corona lay-out is big.” Corona speeding up the demand for flexible rooms is endorsed as well by Hans Bosman. This topic also arose with the renovation of Hotelschool The Hague, which is expected to finish this summer and where he as chairman of the construction team in collaboration with amongst others Fokkema & Partners Architecten BV was closely involved in. “We notice teachers like to have the possibilities to easily transform the rooms from a bigger classroom to smaller and more intimate settings. Amongst the students we noticed the demand for more possibilities to work in a group, besides the individual workplaces. Contrary from what we believed at first.”

Atmosphere and perception

The time of standard block-shaped buildings and uniformity of lay-out where all school buildings are a copy of each other, seems to be behind us. Also in the environment of education there is an increased valuation for atmosphere and a unique perception. Jos Hermans: “Appearance is becoming more and more important. Schools focus more to the showing their own identity and carrying a certain topic. A homely feeling, atmosphere, warmth and even the word ‘gezellig’ are terms often heard.” Hans Bosman: “Our connectivity space, the centrepiece of the building where students and teachers can meet each other, will be decorated completely in living room style. That way we create a relaxed atmosphere in which coming together and meet-ups are key.”

Sustainability

In the field of sustainability there are some things to win in school in school buildings. Peter Heuzinkveld: “When talking about sustainability at schools, the topic often involves around the use of energy. There is being invested a lot in heat recovery systems and energy efficient facades for example, where the blinding of and profiting from the sun are central factors (think of double glazing and solar panels).” Sustainability being mainly looked at on a technical level and less in the use of materials and interior, is also confirmed by Jos Hermans. Maintenance-friendly and a long lifespan are still leading, sustainability and circularity come into play later. Even though it is being looked at more and more often, notices Hans Bosman. “Besides may technical sustainability aspects, we also have consciously chosen for a floor form the Amtico Cirro collection; a PVC-free vinyl floor which meets all strict environmental standards in the field of sustainable construction.”

WELL-BEING

The topic well-being and construction conform WELL, is being applied too little in the education environment, says Jos Hermans. The quality and perception of the rooms and thus also the performances are being influenced by many factors Besides acoustics, natural light, ventilation and fresh air, of big importance are as well colour, sent, artificial lighting, but definitely as well the influence of green and nature. Peter Heuzinkveld: “The emphasis in that respect is mainly on the fresh school standard, where schools in primary and secondary education can get funding for. Especially in this period of corona, in which a healthy inner climate is more relevant than ever.”

Future vision

For the education environment of the future, Peter Heuzinkveld sees an increasing role for broad-based schools. “Also a combination of buildings with different functions like offices, schools and houses together will possibly be seen more. Adaptability of the building and rooms remains an important factor in this sense.” He pleads for the use of a certain excess regarding space with the design and construction process. “That way you keep sufficient options for adaptation to the changing function of the building throughout the years.” Jos Hermans does not necessarily see the principle of the broad-based school expend further, but more a variety to this in the development of multi-functional and flexible buildings that can also be used as school. “Not multiple collective buildings of functions together, but instead one building flexible and adaptable to multiple functions. The connection with green and nature is of big importance in this sense. It can occur for instance that students have a lesson at thesurrounding meadow or park. Light and air in optimal form.”

Regarding the structure of education itself, Hans Bosman sees a shift occurring from individual learning to working in a group. “Blended learning, where physical and education get intertwined more and more, takes high flight. The preparation of lessons will happen more on a digital base like for example through YouTube videos, on location it will go more in depth.” All developments putting architects, education installers and schools to interesting challenges with the designing and shaping of the education environment.

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