“I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder how we could have tolerated anything so primitive.”
– John W. Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, “No Easy Victories” (1968)

TRUNG LE from Fast Company covers the redesigning of the education system with a focus on the corridor. He reports:

Most schools still are built like factories: long hallways, lined with metal lockers, transport students to identical, self-contained classrooms. School designers call these hallways “double-loaded corridors.” The factory model of control and direct instruction still pervades most new schools. If we are to have thorough-going school reform, we must change the design model, too, starting with the place students first enter the school.

School designers have used the double loaded corridor for easy circulation. It met its single purpose of moving kids from one contained classroom to the next at the sound of the bell. Now, when every aspect of a school’s design budget is being questioned, the square footage allocated to the double-loaded corridor accounts, on average, for up to 30% on the total. Roughly one-third of the typical school building is used not for learning, growing, or interacting, but for getting to the places where that happens.

Trung believes in removing coridors altogether and believes that adding furniture, nooks, information portals and views into classrooms, or the outdoors will invite students and visitors to slow down and interact in new ways – to learn in the places that were formerly strictly for transport.

Why pay to build and clean hallways when you live in a climate that allows people to be outside year-round? The Miami-Dade County Prototype School in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, designed by M. C. Harry and Associates, Inc. has outdoor corridors and a “Main Street” gathering space, allowing students to get fresh air on gorgeous days. Or consider theBronx Charter School for the Arts and how it maximized its space by having wide entrances and hallways that flow into each other. This configuration reduces the amount of space needed, allows students to see each other learning, and lets daylight permeate more spaces.

Working with educators, parents, and students, the design community can play an important role in transforming teaching and learning. We can start where students start–designing corridors that encourage ideas to circulate as freely as foot traffic.

Read Trung Le’s blog Design Education