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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Modern Learning Space - Before



Often I work on projects that give me a real buzz, but this year I worked on a very special one - the design of a Modern Learning Space for a primary school.

Earlier this year the Principal of the school wrote to me asking if I would be able to and willing to design the space. She wanted it to look funky and an exciting learning space for the students. I think it took restraint to not write back 'YES!!!!!' in all caps. The reason for my excitement is twofold:

1. This was a wonderful opportunity to use my skills to be able to give back to the local community by creating a fun 21st century learning environment for students, and

2. This was my primary school as a child!

The Existing Room
I have a hazy recollection of sitting in this very classroom all those (ahem) years ago and it hadn't changed a bit since I attended - right down to the heaters (for some reason I still remembered those) and even some of the posters I saw had an 80's vibe to them.

The carpet was in need of a refresh, and the paintwork was yellowing. This room needed help!

The main updates to the room before the project started were to fit an electronic whiteboard that was no longer used and install Wi-Fi. The school had purchased bright new modular furniture to use in the new space but it looked flat in the existing room. They also purchased a large touch screen, a 3D printer and were introducing a Lego Robotics program to the school. But the room didn't have that exciting feel they wanted for the students to use all this fabulous equipment to learn.

The Initial Plan
I visited one day to check out the space to see what we could do on a limited budget. We agreed to:

  • replace the carpet
  • paint the walls and ceiling
  • take down the whiteboards from the front wall
  • remove the heaters because they weren't being used and yet the school was still required to have them regularly serviced
  • replace the whiteboards on the left side wall
  • replace the blinds that were old and yellowed
  • remove any furniture that wasn't required i.e. the teachers desk and an old cabinet
  • the back wall has a storage room behind it and to hide the contents behind, paper was used to cover the glass. I suggested painting the entire wall, including the glass to hide the contents of this room.
  • the tall storage cabinets at the back of the room were used to store the equipment as part of the Lego Robotics program and they were to stay but painted in white
My Design
I mocked up a 3D render of the new space to share with the school and the parent / carer community for their approval. This was a large space and I knew that the room could handle bold stripes made up of carpet tiles so they can be replaced if damaged over time, and laid across the full length of the room. While discussing this idea with a teach she became excited at the possibility of using the stripes as 'runway' that the students can use to raise their built robots - and at that moment I realised I was working with teaching staff that are always looking for ways to integrate learning even through the design of space and the idea was locked in!

Selecting paint and carpet

The stripes would also be taken up the front wall using paint for continuity and it allowed us to create a feature of the front wall which would now be bare with all the existing whiteboards taken down. There was no need for the school to mount anything here so it was a great opportunity to do something fun with that wall. The original design shown here had multiple stripes up and over the ceiling, but I felt it was overkill once we started painting and pared this back in the final space.

The back wall was also an opportunity to have some fun. I had the idea to mimic the squares and rectangle shapes of Lego to create an interesting wall that tied in with how the space would be used. We used paint suitable for glass to paint over the glass panels and hide the contents behind the wall.

I chose citrus-y colours to balance the primary colours of the furniture and selected a darker shade of carpet tiles to hide dirt a bit better and lighter shade of wall colours to keep the room looking bright and fresh.

We had so many volunteers to help us over a couple weekends to get the room ready including the school principal, teachers, parents and carers and people who hadn't painted before but were willing to give it a try and I left each day feeling SO INSPIRED by how very lucky we are to have such a wonderful community. I have so many people to thank - you know who you are!

Next up, I will share with you the final space.

If you would like assistance with an interior project, feel free to contact me about my design services.







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