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Evolution of Design Trends in Education

Sep 23, 2019 / Nichiha

Over time, modern school design has evolved to better meet the needs of students and educators by elevating simple school buildings into dynamic institutions of learning. In the past, traditional school design revolved around a static layout that found its roots in the Industrial Revolution. This segmented approach was based on the manufacturing ideals of the time and gave little consideration to how the physical environment impacted student performance. 

The process for designing schools, however, has undergone a much needed makeover for the 21st century as architects leave behind the old-school, monotone blueprint for one with a more defined purpose. This new, more thoughtful approach embraces active learning spaces that allow for collaboration, sustainability and flexibility. 

Designing modern schools is an investment in our future; one that encourages students to thrive in creative and interactive environments that nurture success. At Nichiha, we strive to stay at the forefront of this conversation, offering sustainable, affordable and durable products that serve as a foundation for this evolution. In this spirit, we’ve highlighted three design trends that are the driving force behind the new architecture of schools.

Nichiha School Design Paul Public

Bold Color 

Innovative school design is most effective when it takes into consideration the overall needs of its individual students. From creating a stimulus that impacts energy levels and attention spans to crafting a sense of excitement as students enter the school building, a bold use of color can have a major impact on the overall experience for both students and educators alike. Pops of invigorating color can turn a passive environment into one that encourages action and stimulates students throughout the entire school day. 

Color choices can also help aid in socialization or encourage students to focus. For example, energetic colors like reds, oranges, and yellows inspire activity and interaction, while cooler colors such as blues and greens support concentration and information absorption. In addition, a recent study by the University of British Columbia found that “red is the most effective at enhancing our attention to detail, while blue is best at boosting our ability to think creatively.

Nichiha School Design Sunset Ridge

Natural Light

One of the top reported design elements that positively impacts students’ learning is an increase and abundance of natural light. Something seemingly so simple — think of all the times you’ve heard about the positive effects of vitamin D, aka good old-fashioned sunlight, on mood and performance — can have a major impact on the overall health of a school. 

According to a report published in the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, students with limited classroom daylight were outperformed by those with the most natural light by 20% in math and 26% on reading tests. Design features such as large windows, high ceilings and learning spaces that open up to the outdoors are modern ways to increase natural light.

Nichiha School Design Stat Graphic

Collaborative Spaces

A big departure from the cell block mentality of yore, architects are now incorporating communal spaces that open up segmented layouts to help students feel more connected. These spaces allow for a wider range of activities that encourage collaboration and in turn support various modes of learning. In modern school design, the layout of these learning spaces is shifting away from the teacher-led classroom model and instead focusing on the students and their overall experience. These adaptive spaces include collaboration zones, innovative science labs and other types of communal tech labs.

According to Building Design + Construction magazine, “Designing spaces for a different type of experience — rather than a specific subject or teacher — will enable schools to curate far more powerful experiences by having environments that are more supportive, interesting, and captivating.”

It’s important for architects to be able to adapt to changing learning trends in order to best meet the needs of students. Whether it’s through implementing color choices that enhance the learning experience or incorporating durable and sustainable materials to ensure the lifetime value of the building, architects, designers and manufacturers all play a key role in the ever evolving architecture of education.


From limitless color possibilities to the weather resistant and durable design of our Architectural Wall Panels, Nichiha USA is a leading choice for new school builds and renovations. To see and feel the Nichiha difference for yourself,
click here to request a sample or contact your local rep to learn more.

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