What Would an Environment Designed for Learning Look Like?
To design a classroom environment to boost learning you have to consider many factors. Sometimes these factors can be interrelated (for example, natural light and temperature) and sometimes poor performance in one aspect can offset gains in others. The obvious one here is acoustic performance; it doesn’t matter how well-lit and comfortable the environment is if students are missing several words out of every sentence.
Achieving as near as possible to the optimum learning space can be a question of balance. We know that natural light is important. It helps maintain our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. The presence of plenty of natural light has been shown to improve academic results.
Meanwhile, children are more susceptible to temperature extremes than adults. The smaller you are, the higher the ratio of surface area to body mass so you will be more affected by high or low ambient temperatures. An overheated classroom affects attention and cognition.
The other major factor is air quality. Control of CO2 levels and the presence of dust and pollutants such as volatile organic compounds can affect physical wellbeing, attendance and academic performance. Oxygen and glucose are the fuels that power our brains. And research at Harvard shows how elevated CO2 levels affect cognition.
In designing the best possible learning environment, thermal comfort, ventilation, daylight and acoustic performance all have to be considered. The ideal solution will depend on the location and orientation of the building; from which direction does the sun shine and is the building near a busy road or flightpath, for example?
Mechanical or Design Control?
One option is to control all of these factors artificially and mechanically. Lighting systems can mimic natural light, buildings can be heated, cooled and ventilated mechanically, and additional sound-proofing treatments can be applied to control internal and external sound. But all of this comes at a cost.
With a sufficiently flexible building system the ideal learning environment can be created in a design-led way. The i-SIP System is easily configured to suit ambitious design and building performance standards that make the most of natural light and ventilation.
The i-SIP System is proving popular with school architects and designers because of the built-in thermal and acoustic properties of the panels and the precise panel fit that controls air permeability.
These advantages allow architects to design buildings with the confidence that the desired performance levels will be achieved with minimum need for artificial environment-control systems. The Innovaré integrated design to installation process simplifies the project and adds a further guarantee over the outcomes.