European children spend approximately 200 days a year at primary school. Even though the academic year in most parts of the world is not as long as in Europe, the place where children and adolescents spend the most time, following their own homes, is usually in educational institutions. These can be places for learning, playing and socializing, and as sad as it may be, they can also be safer places for children living in environments of abandonment, hunger, and violence, providing them with opportunities and even meals. A United Kingdom-wide survey found that the differences in physical characteristics of classrooms accounted for 16% of the variations in learning progress over the course of a year. In other words, the better a classroom is designed, the better children perform academically. According to the study, the factors that most affect children are sunlight, indoor air quality, acoustic environment, temperature, the design of the classroom itself and the stimulation within it.
However, with such diverse climates around the world, achieving all these standards can be difficult in some cases. Bioclimatic strategies that are adequate for each context can determine the success or failure of an educational project. We have selected some projects in different climates and contexts to show the possibilities of working to achieve interesting projects for each climate:
Hot and Dry Climates
In hot and dry climates, it is essential to mitigate the effects of the diurnal temperature variation (difference in temperature between day and night). Therefore, the use of materials with high thermal inertia is important, allowing the heat absorbed during the day to be released during the night. Another issue is finding the balance between ensuring maximum illumination and minimizing thermal radiation, in order to protect buildings from intense sunlight, either with the use of Brise Soleil facades, blinds, trellises, or even vegetation.
By detaching the roof from the thick brick walls, Francis Kéré provides ventilation, and pleasant internal lighting through blinds.
The permeability of the wooden blinds, combined with the prominent eaves, turn this classroom into a good example of architecture that is adaptive to the surroundings.
In addition to making use of thermal inertia, cross-ventilation and stack effect, the creation of internal courtyards also provides interesting gathering spaces.
"The rammed earth walls, along with the elevated roof and wooden screens, not only create the ambiance of the classroom but are crucial to its microclimate. Even when it rains during the dry season, temperatures in the Ashanti region range between 20 and 40 degrees Celsius. Allowing children to study in a cool space during the warmest hours of the day is extremely important for them to concentrate."
Hot and Humid Climates
In hot and humid climates, the temperature variations between day and night are much smaller, and thermal inertia is not an adequate strategy. These are places where the climate is stuff and rainfall isn't uncommon. Because of the heat, it is also important to stop direct radiation. Generous ventilation is vital to dissipate heat and reduce humidity. Screen blocks, blinds, and roofs that provide shade and protection from rain can improve indoor conditions.
The various filters in the project, both on the façades and on the roofs themselves, along with the lightweight materials and slim shapes, block the radiation and provide ventilation at this school in Colombia.
The lightweight roof and the screen blocks ensure constant air flow in the building.
In cold weather, the main concern is keeping the heat inside the building. Buildings are more robust, with thicker walls and higher thermal insulation. Door and window frames are critical. It is important that they allow light and heat to enter while avoiding becoming heat escape points.
At this school in France, large glass panes and skylighting elements fill the interiors with diffused light.
Due to the cold weather most of the year, this project brings the outside to the inside. Trees and generous natural lighting make for extremely pleasant environments.
This daycare center in the Czech Republic uses the translucency of polycarbonate on its facade, over thick thermally insulated walls.
When the climate is not extremely cold or hot, architects experience greater design freedom in choosing materials and strategies.
The arrangement surrounding two huge trees creates interesting atmospheres in this project in New Zealand.
Taking advantage of the structure of industrial warehouses in disuse, the intervention creates semi-open spaces, which blur the boundaries between exterior and interior.
The architects took advantage of the rational structure of the windows to create interesting living spaces for the children, consistent with their size.