Because of the influence a physical environment has on learning, aesthetic appeal is a huge consideration during campus expansion.
Procedia, a journal of the social and behavioral sciences, noted a “significant relationship between the function of the landscape in assisting the learning process and the academic achievement at schools.” That “landscape” includes not only the classroom space, but also the surrounding campus. The University of Illinois’ Department of Landscape Architecture found that “students with a green view outside a classroom window performed better on tests requiring focused attention and recovered better from stress.”
Community leaders, parents and staff have a vested interest in maintaining and improving upon the beautification of a school, and it’s important to keep those interests in mind when weighing construction options that will please your stakeholders. Consider the differences in how portable trailers, precast concrete modular classrooms, and traditional site-built additions affect the appearance of a campus:
Portable Trailer Classrooms. Relatively quick and simple installation means that portable trailers do not require significant digging or damage to surrounding land. However, trailers are not particularly attractive with their boxy appearance, and are not readily customizable to fit in with a campus’s established look and feel. As a quick fix measure, trailers are not meant to be a long-term solution, so the finishes and durability don’t compare to that of precast concrete modular classrooms or site-built additions. The longer a portable trailer stays in place, the more run-down its appearance. It can sit in stark contrast to an otherwise beautifully designed school, which is frustrating for parents who have an expectation that their children will be taught in a structure that’s in line with the overall school. Inside, aesthetic issues may morph into health issues, as with a parent’s concern that her daughter’s trailer classroom smelled “dank and musty”, causing the parent to worry about potentially hazardous health conditions caused by mold.
Precast Concrete Modular Classrooms offer a variety of construction options for design flexibility inside and out. New buildings can be customized to truly fit in with a campus. Classrooms can be joined or configured into multi-story units. Different types of roofing are available and exteriors can be harmonized with existing architecture and landscaping.
Precast concrete modular classrooms require only slightly longer to set up than standardized portable trailers, meaning minimal impact to the learning atmosphere. As a “fast-track” service, construction time is short when compared to traditional site-built construction building times, and can be scheduled over school breaks to eliminate any disturbance.
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Traditional Site-Built Construction. While the finished product of traditional site-built construction can be sturdy and attractive, they require a significant time investment on the front end. Building from the ground up equates to months of dirt, dust, mud, and noise, which is not conducive to learning. During construction, vehicles and materials take up a lot of space and can block entrances or parking spaces, rendering parts of the campus unusable.
Students spend upwards of six hours a day in a classroom, so a main goal in expanding a campus is to do so in a way that best contributes to a positive learning environment. Additions should be as consistent with the overall campus as possible, and the building options and materials that you choose can serve your goal.
Top photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi