STAR-POST (Art) January 2020 FINAL_STAR Post Art Jan 2020 - Page 34

WHAT “Attractive classrooms lend dignity to the learning process” Beyond the physical inadequacies of the room, I also observed undesirable behaviours such as students not working together as a class or taking good care of the space. They were always in a lethargic mood. My suspicion was that the ‘symptoms’ could be improved by redesigning the environment. Niemeyer D (2003) Hard Facts on Smart Classroom Design Current approaches to room design rarely consider factors beyond functionality. The difference in my approach was to meet their psychological needs first and simultaneously accommodate the diversity of practices in the classroom. In doing so, I hoped to impact their behaviour through the space they inhabited. 2. Through a presentation, I convinced users that the room was worth valuing, using examples of how humans expect our various home or work environments to support our needs. I showed them the different types of classrooms they had encountered before and how these rooms invited or discouraged the users. Students were then primed to question what they desired from their space. HOW In my planning, I wanted designs to be led by, and inclusive of the needs of the users. My two guiding questions were: • How can I involve my students in the design of the classroom? • How do I make choices about space that preserves needs, but reimagines the area? WHY 1. I referenced ‘Headspace: The psychology of City Living’ by Dr Paul Keedwell. The book posits that urban design can affect our wellbeing, as how places look and are arranged are not just aesthetic concerns but are critical for our mental health. Some principles provided insight into how spaces in our schools can cater to users’ psychological needs, and these will be introduced in this article. I borrowed an activity from ‘Rethinking Classroom Design’ by Finley and Wiggs. Every student was given two blue post- its and two yellow post-its to write on. They stuck their blue post-its on areas that they associated with negative emotions and yellow post-its on areas they associated with positive emotions. This exercise allowed users to be more sensitive to their space. 34 Sales Pitch ‘Emotional Audit’ I found that: • Students loved having food, natural light, a conducive temperature, and social space • They hated the furnishings, lighting and lack of cleanliness • Mixed feelings were felt about functional aspects that reminded them of work, like the printer, personal work space and the messy resource cupboard. “Public consultation at the planning stage provides useful feedback on the first draft of the design process… When the comments were almost entirely positive the architects knew they had got the design right” Keedwell P. (2017) Headspace 35