“How can you learn about the world in spaces without character?” This question, posed by Alexandra Lange in dezeen.com, is one we should all consider as schools move further into the realm of generic academic design. Lange wrote her opinion piece while reflecting on the demolition of her elementary school, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Cambridge, designed by renowned Modernist Josep Lluís Sert.

martin-luther mural

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Cambridge Student Mural. Source: kenreeves.org

It does seem as if the increasingly generic design of schools, museums and playgrounds resign children to, as Lange states, “places where all they can learn are the tasks we set them.” We may be the ones footing the bill, but children are sensitive consumers and participants in the spaces we design for them. If we aren’t thoughtful or careful about designing spaces for children, we will inhibit our children’s ability to creatively learn about the world around them.

courtyards-custom-lacquered-aluminum-window-frames-serves-an-alternate

Child sits and observes the world around her in Vélez-Rubio Daycare Center Courtyard. Source: interiordesign.net, Photographer: David Frutosbis

Wouldn’t it be interesting to sit a group of elementary students together in a room and ask them the question, “what would you like to see as a part of your new school’s design?” While it might involve some of the high-tech gadgetry and smart technology that is driving the new school’s design, we suspect it would also include a great deal of creative architectural features or flexible design components that cater more to children’s fascination with the world around them, atmosphere and a whole lot of character.

LS&A Architecture and Interiors enjoys designing spaces for children that respect both the classroom and the playroom. Contact us to discuss ideas for your new school, playground or day care facility design.