When Tidaholm Municipality needed to build a new school, they included the pedagogical idea from the planning stage. By thoroughly mapping needs and way of working, as well as involving staff and students, they managed to create a learning environment that supports the school's vision of being welcoming, flexible and sustainable. "A new school requires time, effort, thought and commitment to make it a good one," say principals Ulrika Eskilsson and Andreas Lindahl.
A learning space analysis helps collect and document fact-based knowledge and data before designing new learning environments. Simply put, it is about understanding and analysing in order to improve. With specific tools and workshops, staff and students are involved throughout the change journey. Read more about our learning space analysis Next Education® here.
All classrooms have the Origo table in a variety of shapes and sizes making it easy to rearrange in ways that support the current learning situation.
In Tidaholm, discussions regarding the growing number of students entering the municipality's schools resulted in a decision to build a preschool class up to class 6 school in the new district of Rosenberg. This gave the opportunity to think through the operation from scratch, base their work on the pedagogical idea that school is where you develop knowledge for life, and to focus on the best interests of the students.
Ulrika Eskilsson, principal of preschool class to class 3, was adamant that this be included in the process from the earliest stage possible.
"When investing in a new school, you have to start by asking yourself what your intention is with the learning environment and why you need to make a change. The earlier you take a holistic approach to everything from architecture to interior design, the better. There are no shortcuts to creating environments that provide security, encourage learning and are conducive to studying, so the process has to take time," she says.
Her colleague Andreas Lindahl, principal of classes 4 to 6 and of newly arrived immigrants, agrees and stresses the importance of starting early with planning the school's image and function. Creating sustainable, inclusive learning environments takes a lot of time, thought and mapping, not to mention involving both internal and external expertise. He also mentions that, though they could have started planning Rosenberg School sooner, they nonetheless had some opportunities to influence the building itself to coincide with their pedagogical idea.
"Ideally, you should consider the building and the interior design simultaneously. Not least, it's vital to involve both staff and students as much as you can."
The starting assumption of the Rosenberg School project was the conviction that the physical environment and its design affect how both students and staff feel and perform. The municipality and its staff therefore placed great emphasis on ensuring that solid preparatory work was carried out to map actual needs and to discover which interior design solutions would support them best. All of this to ensure they made the right purchases from the start. Kinnarps was given an early opportunity to present its Next Education® learning space analysis and then worked closely with Rosenberg School's management, project group, staff and students throughout the entire process. Through lectures, studies of different types of learning environments, practical workshops and web surveys, all stakeholders were involved. Kinnarps developed a report compiling the results in their entirety, as well as by department. This report also included recommendations for the physical environment and became an important basis when the municipality formulated the procurement.
"For us, the contact with Kinnarps was crucial. They helped us map and analyse needs, involve staff, conduct study visits and workshops, and formulate our vision and goals. Our employees have been given the opportunity to influence the interior design, but they have also been inspired, influenced and gained knowledge and new ideas from Kinnarps. It has been a journey of learning and change for all of us."
All the school's spaces have been thoroughly considered and planned to support different forms of learning. Here, Space storage has been placed to make a corner and has been fitted with soft cushions. The Vibe sound-absorbing screen on castors has been equipped with a whiteboard that even young students can roll to where they need it.
The procurement finally settled on the evaluation parameters flexibility, a welcoming environment, good acoustics and sustainability. They wanted the best and most creative solution linked to these values, and therefore chose a functional procurement instead of a traditional price procurement. Andreas Lindahl says that the idea behind this was to prioritise the school's vision and concept and focus on the total solution instead of each individual product.
Flexible interior design solutions were one of the fundamental requirements and now permeate the entire school, both in how different pieces of furniture can be combined with other pieces and how they can be arranged to suit a specific individual or learning situation. The choice of varying pastel colours in muted tones also makes it easy to combine furniture without it giving a messy impression.
Soft, padded furniture throughout and a number of sound-absorbing screens provide good acoustics and a cosy feeling. As a nice detail and positive feature that creates a sense of well-being and security, all toilets are equipped with seasonal sounds such as birds chirping.
"We aimed to formulate the procurement in such a way that it would result in a welcoming and sustainable school. What the eye sees is important. When in the school, we want people to feel 'This is nice, this is where I want to be.' A nice environment makes both children and staff feel more valued, and it makes everyone want to take care of the school."
The corridors have been furnished to support informal learning. Here, the Monolite sofa creates a cosy room in a room, and Fields pouffes and Boullé balance ball offer students opportunities for repositioning their bodies.
Malin Skatt, teacher of class 4 to 6, is one of the teachers who was involved in the new school project. She feels that the new learning environments and way of working are more adapted to modern teaching methods. For example, there are group rooms adjoining all classrooms, enabling children to work independently without disturbing each other, while still being close by. Places where students can choose to sit or stand also creates natural dynamics and movement, helping students stay focused. She is also glad that the staff have been given work rooms with furnishings that support different activities, ergonomic desks, project tables and smaller rooms with soft seating for meetings.
"Being able to sit in a designated room for staff and work, instead of in the classroom, is a boost for all of us. It makes it so much easier to create a collegial team spirit and to ask a quick question when you have something on your mind," says Malin Skatt.
In the school's class 1 to 3 special education group, the interior design was planned to meet the needs of each and every student. Storage units and screens on castors make it easy to divide the spaces so that everyone has their own area. The Xpect student chair's gently rounded back also gives the secure feeling of being embraced.
"The children I work with most are in need of special support, but we have noticed that the interior design and furnishings that are good for them are good for everyone. For example, the learning environments' interior design helps to dampen sensory input with subdued colours, upholstered furniture, distinctness and the opportunity to move naturally."
Kajsa Ekelund, teacher of children in need of special support, also appreciates the school's varied interior design and sees a major advantage in being able to adapt the furnishings to suit specific needs and students.
"I had difficulty letting go of traditional furnishings, but Kinnarps provided both inspiration and security. I felt they knew what they were talking about and that we could trust them. It wasn't just about furniture, it was about the big picture, things like values, vision and pedagogical idea," she says.
The best combination of function and design for creating a good acoustic environment. Quiet, portable storage units with sound-absorbing backs make it easy to create a room in a room when needed. Sound-absorbing marmoleum tabletops that are also forgiving of dirt. Upholstered chairs contribute to a better acoustic environment, greater comfort and a more cosy feeling. The hard-wearing Rustico fabric from Kinnarps Colour Studio is adapted for high wear and tear and its multicoloured threads make it forgiving of dirt.
Anders Larsson, learning space strategist at Kinnarps and involved in the project, gives great credit to the principals whose clear vision and understanding of what was important to think about early on in the process enabled them to create the school they dreamed of. It was not just about furnishings, but even more about changing ways of working. One of the success factors was the time and opportunity given to discussing, reflecting, working practically and raising important views and ideas about learning environments. This has made it possible to create sustainable interior design solutions for different learning situations that support both students and teachers and make efficient use of the school's space.
"By coming in early in the process, there was time to map out needs, discuss and reflect on challenges and opportunities, identify what worked well and what didn't in the existing learning environments and gather valuable knowledge from everyone involved."
The hashtag #KULtillsammans was developed in the goal and vision work, where KUL is the Swedish abbreviation for Knowledge, Development and Learning.
Throughout the change journey, the project team understood the importance of planning how to introduce the new learning environments to staff and students once it was time to move in. Inspired by other Kinnarps projects, Rosenberg School created a playbook containing common guidelines and approaches for staff detailing the rules that apply to different situations and specific areas of the school - all with the aim of establishing the way of working and culture they wanted to permeate the school from day one. The book was handed out to all staff prior to opening the new school.
"Both staff and students are starting to learn how to use the environments now, I see this clearly when I walk around the school. The playbook helps us to follow the rules that we, ourselves, formulated. Everyone knowing what applies provides clarity, security, stamina and energy - it will also help us when we bring new staff into the school."
Sound-absorbing Vibe screens in the canteen are easy to roll to where they are needed and give a cosy impression in one of the school's most open areas.
"To be honest, many of us were quite satisfied with the old school, perhaps because we were so used to it, so it was good that Kinnarps talked to us about other ways of furnishing and working. It gave a lot of food for thought and certainly challenged me personally. We have been able to have an influence, but have we also been influenced."
With the help of Space storage and Fields' sound-absorbing ceiling-suspended screens, the staff break room has been divided into different zones. Wall-mounted sound absorbers with shelves in the same series serve also as decorative elements.