Perspectives in Architecture: Innovation in classroom design

0582_Kittner_20130225_7649And6moreEnhancer-EditBy Melody L. Harclerode

Parents experience a range of emotions at the start of the new school year. They feel joy about the opportunities for intellection and emotional growth with their child. They ponder various questions. Who is our child’s teacher? What types of classes will our child have? Who are their classmates? If a child attends a school with an overcapacity of students, parents may worry about other issues. How many students are in my child’s classroom? Will my child attend classes in a portable classroom? If so, how many classes will be held in a portable classroom during the school day?

While the pre-fabricated, off-site design of portable classrooms allows schools to quickly expand, many parents are frightened by the prospect of holding classes in these buildings. The interior spaces are typically dark from insufficient natural light, uninspiring from drab finishes and loud from inadequate cooling and heating systems. These qualities produce an unpleasant educational environment. The simplistic exterior design of portable classrooms also adds unattractive buildings to the school campus and surrounding community. Thankfully, parents and school administrators have an exciting alternative to traditional portable classrooms.

Architect Allen Post, AIA leads a design team for the Atlanta office of Perkins+Will to revolutionize 21st century classroom space with Sprout Space. Their innovative portable classroom features sustainable elements such as ample daylighting from large spans of windows, a collection system to reuse rainwater for irrigation, long-lasting LED lighting and formaldehyde-free materials minimizing discomfort and sickness to classroom occupants. The features are packaged in a dazzling exterior design with a butterfly-shaped roof. Rain screen panels reduce energy demands by the flow of natural air in the exterior wall. Marker boards on the exterior promote outdoor learning and add splashes of color.

Built by a well-experienced building company called Triumph Modular, Sprout Space is customized to the needs of school administrators in an environmentally-controlled factory. This classroom building can be constructed as a temporary or permanent space on a site. Individual Sprout Space units vary from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet in size, yet can be linked to create an entire school. Interior finishes such as the amount of marker and tack boards are adjusted by request.

Sprout Space units are being deployed to Chattahoochee Hills Charter School in southwest Fulton County near the Serenbe community for the schools’s new pre-K through 8th grade program.

In the midst of uncertainty as school resumes, Sprout Space gives this certainty to parents and school administrators: students will have a healthy, conducive and beautiful environment to learn.

Melody HarclerodeMelody L. Harclerode, AIA, a local architect and former Board Member of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, promotes the power of architecture and design as a Board Member of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Associate Principal of Hyer Creative (hyercreative.com). For more information, check out aiaatl.org.

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