Adapting and Designing Spaces: Children and their Schools

  • Andrea Kenkmann
Keywords: Children, Participation, School design, Space


In schools, children experience their environment on three different levels: firstly, they constantly make spatial decisions by positioning themselves in relation to others and organising their immediate environment; secondly, they can potentially contribute to shaping the classroom spaces; and, thirdly, they are confronted with the designed school as a whole.
It is argued here that our experiences of spaces are related to our memories, which provide us with a framework of references that allows us to ‘read’ and construct spaces. Whereas on the lowest level of spatial involvement children are natural decision makers, the higher levels require access to, and an understanding of, shared practices and discourses. Although existing data on children’s perceptions of their schools suggest that children’s participation in
the school design process is laudable for all sorts of reasons, such participation means overcoming considerable barriers for comparatively little gain in terms of the design quality. It is the level of the classroom where a more genuine shared organisation and (re)creation of space can take place on an everyday basis.


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