Schools around the world have come under the spotlight recently as more and more becomes known about the correlation between educational performance and the health and well-being of students.
With a growing understanding of the impact of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) on the learning abilities and quality of educational facilities, it is little wonder that a schooling revamp is hot on industry agendas.
The latest of these endeavours involves the Irish school system, with Irish Education Minister Ruairí Quinn pointing out a national need for ‘fresh thinking and creativity to the design of (Irish) schools, given the changes that are under way both in terms of curriculum and how students are taught.’
Scottish architectural firm ARPL has shown an affinity for such fresh thinking, winning a national Department of Education competition to design the new Kingswood Secondary School in Tallaght, South Dublin.
The firm’s key objectives when undertaking the task of designing a highly prized school for 1,000 students included developing a space that is ‘functional, stimulating, innovative and exciting’, creating a ‘learning environment for students, staff and the community’, and designing a ‘city in microcosm.’
Quinn said these same core design foundations were a recurring theme among the 154 entrants in the competition.
The national schooling revamp will include the development of more than 100 schools over the next five years, with the overhaul offering ‘real opportunity to seek innovation in the design of these new schools.’
Dated school buildings are known to have poor acoustics, causing issues with classroom noise levels and comprehension, and generally low IEQ. According the US Green Building Council, when issues with IEQ are improved, students see a 41.5 per cent improvement in their health, a 15 per cent improvement to learning and productivity and a 25 per cent improvement to test scores due to better lighting and ventilation.
In order to maintain a competitive international educational standard, these elements will need to become a priority, as is the case in Ireland.