Designing Non-Instructional Spaces That Inspire Learning

2021 03 18 Food Court Lounge 1 — Health, Kids

Non-instructional spaces such as cafeterias, hallways, widespread locations, courtyards, and other outside locations are vital elements in how a college functions—and they ought to not just be afterthoughts when designing college buildings.

With cautious preparing, schools can make successful use of these communal spaces to assistance make the ideal college culture and even assistance mastering beyond the classroom. In truth, the pandemic has confirmed the worth of these spaces in supporting higher-top quality teaching and mastering.

As schools have attempted to spread students out to retain protected social distancing, lots of have taken benefit of cafeterias, widespread spaces, and outside locations to make extra mastering spaces. K-12 leaders have located this course of action substantially a lot easier with non-instructional spaces that are intentionally created to serve lots of functions—such as empowering students to engage in continuous mastering.

Smart Design Elements

When designing and equipping non-instructional spaces that can inspire mastering, right here are 4 core principles to preserve in thoughts.


For schools to get the most worth out of non-instructional spaces, these ought to be multipurpose spaces that can assistance lots of unique types of activities. For instance, can your cafeteria double as a study center or a lounge location when meals are not becoming served? Can a hallway serve as a spot for students to loosen up and recharge their devices amongst classes?

Versatility also implies becoming capable to assistance a selection of group sizes. Some students may well want to sit and study by themselves, although other folks may well want to speak or work collectively in pairs or smaller groups.

Equipping cafeterias, widespread locations, and other non-instructional spaces with a selection of furnishings varieties enables for lots of utilizes. Choosing agile, modular furnishings that can be configured in several approaches tends to make it very simple to convert spaces from 1 use to yet another, or to make versatile groupings of unique sizes.


If students are going to reflect on what they’ve discovered or continue a discussion that started in class, they want comfy and effortlessly accessible locations to sit down and speak, study, study, or appear up facts. These spaces—which can be hallways, massive widespread locations, or even outside spaces—should be furnished with comfy, attractive seating that draws students to the space and encourages them to keep and speak or do work amongst classes or just after college.

Using soft lounge seating or café-style tables and chairs can make these locations comfy, hugely engaging locations exactly where students delight in spending time.

A effectively-created hallway or widespread location can serve as a spot for students to loosen up, study, or recharge a device amongst classes.

For anytime, anyplace mastering to grow to be a reality, students want tools and supplies to assistance continuous mastering all through the college. These may well be higher-tech tools such as laptops, tablets, and interactive displays, or even just low-tech tools such as whiteboards or uncomplicated writing surfaces to brainstorm and share tips.

While digital devices bring an complete globe of facts to students’ fingertips, enabling students to discover from wherever they are, a dead battery can rapidly disrupt digital mastering. For non-instructional spaces to assistance continuous mastering successfully, believe about how these spaces will meet students’ energy requires with strategically placed electrical outlets—such as outlets embedded in tabletops, chairs, and other furnishings.

Consider supplying constructed-in USB ports for connecting peripheral devices as effectively, and make positive there is ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage anyplace students may well collect to discover or study.


Students are most most likely to use non-instructional spaces as extensions of the classroom if they really feel inspired to continue their mastering. Schools can assistance foster a culture of continuous mastering by creating informal mastering spaces intellectually engaging and stimulating.

For instance, use furnishings, artwork, decorations, and age-suitable tools that inspire curiosity in hallways and other widespread locations. Objects such as maps, sculptures, inventions, shelves of books, posters, interactive displays, inspiring quotes, dioramas, and examples of student work can encourage students to continually believe, reflect, and discover.

Creativity in space style can inspire inventive pondering amongst students.

Modern School Cafeterias: 4 Great Ideas

The contemporary college cafeteria draws inspiration from cafes, meals courts, and other spaces that students like to hang out in just after college. “It’s recreating that coffee shop vibe in the school in order to draw students in,” says Ofelia Gonzalez, an interior designer for School Specialty.

2021 03 18 Food Court Lounge 3 — Health, Kids
Take inspiration from cafes and meals courts.

Here are 4 style tips to guide you.

Provide a selection of group sizes. “You want to have large group settings for students to sit and eat and also for hosting functions, with tables that can seat 10-12 people,” Gonzalez says. “You should also think about providing smaller, more intimate settings for when students want to sit on their own—as well as tables that can accommodate small groups of 4-6 people.”

Offer a selection of heights. Providing conventional seating as effectively as taller bistro tables and stools provides students a lot of selections for feeling comfy. For instance, lightweight NeoClass Sled Base Stacking Chairs are obtainable in 18-inch and 30-inch heights to give students a selection of alternatives. “Eating counters and study counters, something that can span the length of a wall or around a column, are becoming popular as well,” Gonzalez says. “Kids can pull out their laptop and hang out for a while.”

Include comfy zones. Providing soft seating alternatives, such as lounge-style couches, benches, and booths, creates a space that is more inviting.

Add energy wherever feasible. If you embed energy inside countertops or tabletops, then students are not tripping on energy cords—and they are not restricted in their decision of exactly where to sit. “Students don’t have to sit near a wall,” Gonzalez explains. “They have more flexibility to sit where they are comfortable.”

2021 03 18 Cafe 1 — Health, Kids
Giving students a selection of seating alternatives tends to make the cafeteria more comfy and inviting.

Hallways, Common Areas, and Outdoor Spaces That Engage and Inspire

Assuming they’re massive and open adequate, hallways and widespread locations can be valuable locations for students to cease and reflect on their mastering, engage in conversations, or even just verify their messages or recharge a device in amongst periods.

“Providing booths or benches along the wall creates an area for students to stop at on the way to their next class,” Gonzalez says. “Even counters that run along the wall can provide a spot for students to set their phone down and recharge. For instance, KwikBoost charging stations allow students to charge up for five minutes between classes. Having someplace to set their stuff down is very useful.”

Outdoor spaces present lots of possibilities to extend mastering, and study suggests there are each educational and well being-connected positive aspects to mastering outdoors. For instance, breathing fresh air can clear students’ minds and assistance them believe by escalating the quantity of oxygen their brains acquire. Being outdoors can also decrease pressure and boost students’ emotional well-being.

2021 03 18 Outdoor Commons 2 — Health, Kids
Outdoor spaces can be equipped with comfy, climate-resistant seating to extend mastering.

When designing outside spaces, it is crucial to provide lots of seating alternatives for unique group sizes, just as when designing cafeterias. Use climate-resistant supplies that can withstand the components.

Also, believe about mobility: Do you want students to be capable to move outside tables or furnishings? “If not, consider anchoring tables and using attached seating,” Gonzalez recommends.

Look at the Competition

When designing non-instructional spaces that students come across inspiring, believe about what the “competition” is carrying out, Gonzalez concludes: “What are you seeing at restaurants? Bistros? Cafés? Those are the places where students are going to hang out. How do we get students to stay longer at school and use school resources for learning, instead of hanging out at these off-campus locations? By designing more boutique-style, fun spaces that feel less institutional.”

To discover how School Specialty can assistance you style and equip non-instructional spaces that foster college culture and assistance continuous mastering, contact us today.

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