Educational Spaces 21. Open up!
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Module 2. Factor 3: level of stimulation

LEVEL OF STIMULATION: the space should not distract us, but it can stimulate our behaviour and thereby learning.  In this group attention was given to the following factors:


COMPLEXITY OF THE VISUAL SPACE – diversity of noticeable elements in our environment. It is a result of integrating three elements: the level of organisation (order, cohesion), increasing the sense of transparency and familiarity with the environment.

Appearance – the school should be a place where students like to go. Do not be surprised if they do not want to come to a school that was designed on the basis of a prison design, with small classes and a narrow corridor, where you cannot hide. Even the external appearance of the building should be welcoming. Unfortunately, most schools in Europe resemble Prussian barracks and hence represent a major challenge for the designers. How to design the architecture of the building to be fully functional within, but also intriguing and attractive to the eyes of the students?
Sometimes it is enough to include a unique facade in the design (i.e. lay a mosaic) or paint a mural, but it would be even better to access the school through a nice and user-friendly courtyard that serves as a landmark of the school (and a place of social interaction). Inside the building the situation is similar – the space should be pleasant to be
in – even if the architecture and functionality of the building make it impossible to make every area equally nice and friendly, let’s try to design areas that will fill students and teachers with energy.


COLOUR – colours exert an influence on people’s psychological reactions and well-being. Colour perception always carries some visual, social and symbolic meaning.

Appearance – colours attract attention, and have a significant effect on the emotions and psyche. Colour can also serve different functions, stimulating the brain inside and outside the building. Outside, it attracts the attention of students and affects their attitude and perception of the school. Inside, it affects concentration; it can distract or support the learning process. Color can also be adapted to climatic conditions, for example: in cold climates vivid colors will stand out more during cloudy, rainy or snowy days and will make the landscape a little more vivid.

Rooms – colours stimulate the brain in different ways. They can distract and provoke, evoke emotions. Therefore, the colour of the room influences the learning environment. The school space is a great place to experiment with different colours of walls and ceilings. Classrooms should have soft colours (though you could imagine a fragment of a wall or ceiling in a specific zone of the classroom in a colour that has to stimulate activity). Because colours play a role, we may try to differentiate the walls, the floor and the ceiling by using different shades or tones to break the monotony and visually stimulate students. It is worth noting that different colour combinations in the classroom can cause different feelings in different students and produce different, not always positive, emotions. Therefore, the selection of the colours used to paint the rooms is crucial and should be preceded by an analysis of the studies conducted on the subject and perhaps also by consultations with the students. There is no restriction as to the use of different colours in different areas of the school (i.e. library, cafeteria, atrium, hallways, etc.) It is also good to organise an art competition for students to provide decorations for some of the corridor walls (the execution itself can be entrusted with the artists). In this way, they will feel more like the hosts of the school.

Flow of people – colours also reinforce the organisation of people movement in the school (they work in a way similar to bike lanes painted in a different colour – they set the fast circulation lanes that can be used on the way to class).


TEXTURE – refers to the visible characteristics of the materials used in a given space. It is one of the most important elements of school design next to colour! A proper combination of hard and soft surfaces allows to shape the internal and external space and make it more natural.

Outdoor areas – the quality of functioning in the school space depends largely on the areas around the school building and how they are organised (benches, gazebos, paths, sports fields, lawns, gardens, trees, pond, etc.). Especially in warm weather students spend time outdoors, which is very important for their development (the design should also include those elements of outdoor areas that can be used in bad weather).  In the school surroundings, it is not only the organisation and aesthetics of the area that are important, but also what kind of design elements were used in the organisation of this space. For example, is the running track made out of pebble or tartan, were natural (i.e. wood) or artificial elements used? Generally speaking, the more natural elements the better we feel in the school’s surroundings and we will come back to it with a better attitude. It is recommended to use natural vegetation and water – this makes it possible to show the natural cycle of nature and has a positive impact on the learning process and on the development of cognitive skills.Download the Colours file to read more on colour preferences depending on the age.