The Solvang School District has recently undertaken a variety of facility and frontage improvements for their elementary school. One of the areas of focus for these improvements was the courtyard at their upper campus. The District saw this courtyard as an opportunity to modernize their school by expanding and diversifying learning settings for their students.
In collaboration with both the landscape and architecture design teams, RRM developed a concept for the school to provide their students with flexible learning settings outside the traditional walled classroom. The team wanted to provide students with a productive place to learn and play by providing formal and informal settings for interaction. With the onset of the pandemic, the District’s goal of utilizing the outdoors as a classroom not only promotes positive learning outcomes, but also provides a healthy and flexible environment for their students and teachers.
Typical Features of Outdoor Classrooms:
- SHADED CLASSROOM: A more formal environment for teachers to give their lessons. This area provides shade and tall desks for students to either sit or stand and a wall for the teachers to use or pin up information.
- TEACHING/STUDY WALL: This wall integrates a table and outdoor blackboard for teachers to use as they give their lessons. The wall is dual surfaced so it can be used from either side.
- PASSIVE BREAK AREA: These areas provide space for students to use during break periods.
- BREAK AREA ACTIVITIES: This courtyard will also be used during break periods and the District wanted to provide activities for the students to interact with each other in an active way.
- WAYFINDING ELEMENTS: Because this school is spread across two campuses, the District sought to implement fun and interactive ways to move through the campus.
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