What's Your Environment?

A tree-inspired day care center is a far cry from fake grass enhanced playgrounds. The tree trunk is the very foundation of the center, and as such creates the security blanket for the entire structure. This center evokes a warmth which the youngsters respond to. Dream Blossoms grow out of the trunk and create sleeping areas for the habitants to snuggle and nap in.

Last year I had the good fortune of getting an opportunity to design my laptop lab classroom (which I did with the help of my little friend, Google Sketchup). I have to admit, I've been pretty pleased with my cafe-style classroom. The kids sit at a counter, at tables, on a couch,or on the floor on bean bags. The idea that we keep reinforcing is that they have to choose a place in which they will learn the best. However, after taking a look at some school designs highlighted over at The Cool Hunter I can see that my thinking is deeper inside the box than I had initially thought.

I don't know how hard I would have to have pushed to have our lab designed to look like a cubist forest (pictured above); or who I'd have to have convinced to have the new tech-library center become a slowly unfolding story in itself, as this school did:

Forget the "concrete jungle" archetypal school, complete with bars on windows. This school's hallways (pictured above) have been inspired by the imaginary landscape of the Silver Dragon. This environment is created to read like a story book; the further you progress through the hallways, the higher your senses are delighted.

Whether 'storybook' or 'forest' is more your style, these schools demonstrate both a unique way to engage students through their physical environment, and the importance of encouraging them to imagine new possibilities.


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