By Kimberly Murphy
On June 9, 2014, NY Times writer Jan Hoffman authored an article calling into question the highly decorated, colorful classrooms that we all probably grew up with and where our kids/nieces/nephews are probably currently attending. Here at ESKW/A, we embrace, celebrate, promote, and adore colors so we were especially curious to read Ms. Hoffman’s article. A study performed by Carnegie Mellon looked at the test results of classrooms richly adorned with decoration and ones with stark walls. It’s nice to think that the physical environment was the critical factor in the test results, because as architects we truly believe in the value of the well built environment; however a little thing called teachers might have had an impact as well. We have a hard time believing that scalloped borders on displays are “visually damaging” children. We do applaud a strong stance either way and agree with the notion that the images on the walls should be created by the students in the room.
The study is admittedly narrow, but since it does place importance on the physical classroom environment we would like to ask for ceiling heights, natural light, and artificial lighting variables to be measured. We bet money that the results will point to improved performance in an improved space. We also think that better space makes for happier teachers and we all want that. Spaces that are well crafted and maintained are places of pride which all schools strive to be.
We’ve been in many, many classrooms and designed a fair number of them as well. Yes, some classrooms can look like a circus of colors and distractions, but don’t run out for the gray paint just yet! Organized compositions of color and a structure of displays and delineation of various spatial functions can go a long way to improve the modern classroom. Call us, we can help.