Designing with Intent: Reimagining School Building Design

With the holidays in our rearview mirror, nearly all schools returned from winter break with in-person learning despite record-breaking COVID-19 case counts. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant has been a logistical nightmare and has taken an emotional toll on schools and the families they serve. It has also complicated educators’ plans for making headway academically with their students. While remote learning continues to replace some in-person learning, experts agree that social interaction is an important aspect of education, particularly for younger students. Now more than ever, education design is imperative as these spaces must be adapted for adequate space, lighting, and ventilation.

With the rapid response by the onset of the pandemic, schools had to implement short-term solutions to minimize COVID-19 exposure to students and staff. But how do we adapt to this “new normal”? Whether a large-scale renovation or retrofitting existing structures, Talisen can create safe spaces conducive to learning with innovative construction and design.

The Air We Breathe

Clean air is essential for living and learning, and adequate ventilation is integral to COVID-19 prevention. We know that even before the pandemic, some schools and universities had indoor air quality (IAQ) challenges. This is why HVAC systems are critical to COVID-19 mitigation efforts due to their ability to control airborne pollutants and viruses and distribute fresh outside air in classrooms.

Additionally, exposure to pollutants like dust, mold, and mildew can be a detriment to health long-term. Bacteria, viruses, and allergens may continue to thrive in the classroom despite efforts to sanitize. Schools should have their IAQ’s assessed to determine effective improvement measures. Hardware such as the Healthway 2000 SC Self-Contained can be retrofitted to existing HVAC systems or installed as stand-alone units. These units not only purify the air and remove pathogens, but they are energy efficient and effective. Since IAQ can affect both teachers’ and students’ performance and health, schools can’t afford to overlook this aspect in their facilities.

Adequate Lighting

Lighting plays an essential role in an educational environment. Good quality lighting creates optimal viewing for students to read, write and perform classroom activities. Lighting has changed quite a bit since the construction of many 20th-century schools, and there was a time where natural light was the dominant approach to keeping classrooms bright.

Natural light has a variety of positive influences on learning and productivity due to its psychological effects. It results in higher vitamin D and energy levels while improving sleep and reducing the impact of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Designing for natural daylight is an excellent way to promote alertness and productivity in the classroom. Installing eco-friendly lighting like Brainlit Bio-Centric Lighting, mimics natural light and improves health, well-being, and cognitive performance.

Designing with Function

When brought in early, Talisen can offer functionality insights to the project design, such as safely and efficiently moving the project forward with the least disruption to the learning environment.

Designing With Efficiency

Talisen has completed many education projects in the critical timeframe of the winter holiday and summer break timeframe. Preplanning for these projects is crucial in meeting the strict schedule so that no students or staff are impacted by construction.

Designing With Safety & Security

When building on a school campus, it is paramount that all students and staff are well aware of the work being done, and there are plans in place for protection and strategies for keeping pedestrians out of the work area. The functionality of alternate travel routes around campus must be accommodated for and approached most efficiently, with as minimal an impact as possible.

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