Think about the last time you were in a classroom. What made it an effective space for learning and collaboration?
This may not look like a normal classroom to you — and it isn't. Designed for Skillsfuture's Learning Express situated in Paya Lebar, the client's brief was to create Classrooms of the Future. Say that again?
Learning has changed, and so should classroom design.
The initial research task at project kick-off was to discover how the culture of learning has evolved since the 1990s, when we were students. Across the board, responses from educators, students and research papers were that education is becoming more participative, with an emphasis on interaction. Remember when classrooms used to consist of rows and rows of squarish desks facing a teacher standing in front of a chalkboard? Scratch that. The frequency of group discussions, peer learning and interactive games means that a new form of classroom has to take shape in order to more adequately support new forms of learning.
A semi-circular cloud classroom with removable A4 and A3 sized whiteboards, allowing students to write their responses and display it on wall hooks.
Making learning fun again.
Armed with these new insights, for the Skillsfuture classrooms project, we imagined learning to be a discovery journey atop a train, with each pitstop representing a distinct destination: a beachside bar, a laboratory, a cabin, and a library amongst others.
The train cabin 'windows' are writable boards. Each classroom has a breakout space with drinks and snacks, allowing the casual breakout and networking sessions to be a contiguous part of the learning experience.
This laboratory themed games room is tech-enabled. Each cluster of chairs is equipped with a movable interactive screen where the group can jot down their ideas, and present it to the whole class. The teacher serves as a games room show host, with a console that controls which group's screen is on display.
Does a classroom need to be rectangular?
The client wished to fit 9 classrooms within an irregularly shaped plan. The brief presented an interesting challenge — as the classrooms simply could not be rectangular if they were to fit optimally into the space. This, however, presented us with a design opportunity. Is there an ideal workable classroom that is non-rectangular? Furthermore, the client wished to have classrooms with transformable walls that could be hidden away, forming a larger combined room. This led to a series of formal explorations.
One constant in each classroom was the provision of a an interactive screen. Based off this, we constructed viewing angles towards the screen, and determined the visual limits beyond which students would not be able to see the screen clearly. This, in effect, generated classrooms that were workable even though they were irregular shaped, and ruled out others that caused visual obstructions.
The final plan for Learning Express was a series of rooms of varying sizes and forms, suited for a diverse range of meetings and classes. Arena 1 & 2 and Book Hall 1 & 2 are combinable into larger rooms. The perimeter walls of Arenas 1 & 2 can also be slid away, transforming into a large open space suitable for trade fairs.