Movement & ergonomics

"Traditional furniture encourages children to sit up straight and still. We think this should be a thing of the past. Health, well being and learning depend on movement, even when students are sitting."
- Dr. Dieter Breithecker - Ergonomist. (2005)


We live in a sedentary society; we spend more time sitting than standing or lying. While humans originally evolved to being able to stand on two legs, we spend the majority of the day standing or sitting on 6 legs. And to add more atop of that, the ergonomic tradition mposed the throne-model as the most ergonomic way to sit. Straight back, feet on the ground and remain seated!

But those days are over. Finally, ergonomists and designers of all professional inclinations start to understand that it is not sitting still but rather moving - even while being seated - that people like doing most. Try to watch a child for half an hour that is sitting on a chair, and count the number of different positions that it takes. It will show you what sitting is all about.



"What we need urgently are people who can contribute to change and innovation." - Sir Ken Robinson. (2009)


In recent years we have seen several 19th and 20th century technology and production facilities move to emerging industrialized countries all over the world. Only high-tech businesses in specific niche markets stay in our regions. In order for the
economy to survive, highly innovative companies are needed and therfore very innovative employees. Creativity and innovation are becoming ever more valued in our society, while values such as analytical thinking were more important before.
In this context, we often speak of left and right brained people.


All-day community school

"The degree to which group spaces are shared by the community - during or outside the school day - will vary from school to school. Primary school group spaces (particularly at infant level) are less likely to be
shared because of the differences in furniture size and the vulnerability of displays."
- Schools for the future. DfES. (2002)


In some education systems around the world, it has been a common approach in recent years, in order to keep major investments in school buildings profitable, to integrate other non-education related functions
in the same buildings. These are often: libraries, sports facilities, multipurpose rooms, nurseries… They could be functionally linked to the school itself, but are often accessible also outside school hours.
This requires a certain flexibility in the design and use, which is referred to as allday community school. The functions, use and perceptions of a school building are extended to a more general complex
of public spaces.

School as a social environment

"The idea, of a school having walls, disappears. Parents are part of the school; friends are part of the school. That's why we say: 'learning is a philosophy, it's a state of mind'." - JP Rangaswami. (2010)


The school is becoming an ever more important meeting place. For children, the school is often the only place where they meet their friends, and parents can catch up at the school gate. 21st century learners, do not necessarily go to school that is near by. They often travel several miles to the school of their choice. As a result, these school buildings are also becoming social hubs and places of informal information exchange. The school's infrastructure adapts in order to incorporate this social aspect.


Schools under pressure

Pupils are changing: Networking generation

The social context around education and society in general is constantly changing. And in recent years even faster than ever. School is given an increasingly more important responsibility in our society. Once having a major social impact on the people, associations or religions are being pushed more and more to the background. Now education is practically the only context where every citizen is obligated to participate. In this situation schools are (against their will?) being given a greater social role. The school becomes a meeting place, a place of social integration and transfer of information for both children and their parents. Companies also set higher demands for schools. The contemporary world of work does not require hundreds of easily replaceable blue or white collar machine cogs, but rather independent, innovative and proactive employees.To make it harder still, education in its traditional form has lost its monopoly in terms of knowledge transfer. Modern media such as TV, the web and others become more and more influential.