The school environment affects children's health, emotions and learning. The good design of school buildings makes these places more pleasant and more functional. Children's views are important and need to be more effectively integrated in the school design project, especially after the pandemic as many schools had to re-design their spaces. However, there are challenges for academics, designers and policymakers in determining which methods are appropriate for listening to children's views and ensuring their effective participation. The study aims to evaluate the different ways in which children could get involved in designing schools, and to identify spatial design trends from the perspective of the children.
For this study, qualitative and quantitative research methods were used. Various data collection techniques were drawings, model making and questionnaires. The empirical study was undertaken by 120 children (8–10 years old), who designed three spaces in two Primary Schools in England.
This paper discusses the change in use of spaces for current and future (post-COVID) school design and the need for multi-purpose spaces that can flip form one to another. The findings highlight the importance of involving children in the school design process that could then inform the decision-making processes of architects and designers. The findings would have implications for school design practice, demonstrating how research can be embedded in primary schools to evaluate the quality of indoor and outdoor spaces.
More research focusing on diverse spaces, various age groups and in different primary schools would provide reliable and age-appropriate guideline for future school design. It is recommended to gather children's and teachers' views related to the changes that primary schools in the UK have applied in response to the pandemic since June 2020 to assess the impact of social distancing in various indoor and outdoor spaces.
The study is a response to effective involvement of children in school design process as the main user. By identifying appropriate methods to gather children's views, the gap between academics, designers and policymakers can be bridged, especially for innovative post-COVID design of primary schools with radical changes. The study also highlights children's views for design of outdoor and indoor multi-functional spaces and suggests some post-pandemic design considerations to respond to children's preferences as well as their health and well-being.
The author would like to thank the Faculty of Art, Design and Humanities at De-Montfort University for supporting her in carrying out these studies. The author also would like to thank the headteachers and teaching staff at Earlsdon Primary School and Broad Heath Primary School for their kind support and involvement in this research. Specially, the author would like to thank all the children participated in these studies for sharing their views and creating amazing work.Funding: There was no external funding for this project, but an internal fund from the faculty to buy the materials for model making.
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