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October 29, 2021

Designing K12 Schools for Successful Education

Designing K12 Schools for Successful Education

It is a common misunderstanding that K12 architecture has remained the same over the years. In fact, K12 design has been quietly changing the way we see the education system as a whole. Instead of a copy-paste, budgeted approach, many districts are investing in design flexibility for success. This is a stark contrast to the old, “traditional” model. What does it take to design for successful education? Let’s take a look…

Understanding the Goals

One of the biggest trends we’re seeing now in education is the real need to focus on students’ social and emotional well-being and development, just as much as we focus on intellectual development. It’s becoming clear to us that a large number of students have already been exposed to significant trauma, which impacts every aspect of their lives – especially learning.


To support students better, both on an intellectual and an emotional level, educators focus on the following goals:

Supporting Diversity
Students don’t all learn the same way. Varying learning styles, differing cultural backgrounds and the resources or adult interaction students get at home all impact how students learn. Students need personalized learning opportunities that support and celebrate these differences.

Creating Effective Learning Spaces
More teachers realize that learning can and should take place outside of the traditional classroom environment. There should also be greater collaboration between the wider community and K12 students. Creating learning spaces in-between classrooms like outdoor labs, recreation centers and places for the community to gather is a great way to encourage 24/7 learning.

Encouraging Smart Digital Use
Technology plays a vital role in the lives of modern K12 students. Teaching students how to adapt to new tech and use it in a safe and healthy way is absolutely essential!

Promoting Curiosity
Rote learning is outdated and ineffective. Today’s teachers want students to engage more with the material and think critically. They need spaces that allow them to experiment, express their creativity and ask questions.

The latest K12 school design trends support each of these goals. By leveraging these trends, experienced architects design school buildings that are future-ready, while also enhancing the district’s academic integrity. This leads to greater student happiness and academic success

More Flexible Spaces

Instead of thinking of spaces as sectioned-off spaces to keep students until the bell, we think of these spaces as opportunities to promote interaction and collaboration. This includes the creative use seating and even movable walls that allow teachers to create breakout spaces. Spaces should support all learning styles. It is important to incorporate small quiet spaces with larger spaces for group work.

Another essential K12 school design trend is the use of blended learning spaces. Rather than creating separate spaces for students who need extra support or resources, we incorporate these needs into every room!

Technology in the Classrooms

Digital fluency is an important skill that today’s students must learn in order to grow into successful adults. This means learning how to use technology – and not letting technology use them.

One of the most exciting K12 school design trends is the use of gaming, virtual reality and coding learning spaces in the curriculum. Architects provide comfortable spaces where students can use laptops anywhere, not just in designated computer labs. Architects also design spacious educational gaming and VR rooms!

CMBA Encourages Student Success and Well-Being

At CMBA Architects, we’re always watching K12 school design trends. We know that every district and every learning space has unique goals and needs. Click here to learn more!

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