For safety reasons, we are using schools very differently during the pandemic. Air circulation, room capacity and group transitions all had to be reconsidered. Teachers use more electronics than ever, namely for virtual teaching and so do students. The need for breaks from screen time is felt by everyone. Each time the school goes to lockdown and reopens is an opportunity to reconsider whether we prefer to attend school from home mask-free, or at the school masked all day.
Will our school buildings feel increasingly obsolete as the post-pandemic era will set in and we gradually wake up from this collective nightmare? That is a question school trustees, policy makers and unions will certainly be addressing and debating. It is important that parents and their children also take part in this discussion.
Architects as much as anyone else should make their voice heard and encourage new ways to envision future learning spaces that are more adaptable to transitions from regular use to crisis situation. We came across the interesting website on architecture and education, edited by Adam Wood and Emma Dyer. They present over twenty interviews with fellow architects, teachers and other education professional on the subject. They also have a page on school museums around the world, like the Museum of Schools and Children’s Book, in Turin (in Italian). Revisiting what schools were like in the distant past, is one way to reconsider what they should look and feel like in the future.