Color in Educational spaces

Color in Educational spaces

By:  Donna Metallic When developing color schemes for schools there are many approaches but we look at social economics, and location of the site.  When we start the design process with a client we try to understand the school corporation’s mission and vision then reflect that into a color philosophy for the space. One color approach:  A quiet, more refined base palette with an accent color to animate the particular environment and draw attention to a certain feature within the space.  Trying to create a more approachable space and less institutional! Another approach:  Each space of a learning facility has a different function, so treat it with a color.  Corridors- something cool and calm, Café- warm neutrals with bold splashes of red and orange, which have been proven to stimulate one’s appetite.  Gymnasiums- gravitate toward active colors, Yellow is the fastest color.  Library has many functions these days – so finding a harmonious balance between different functions can be a challenge.  Reading and studying should be calming colors to promote concentration, while social lounges should feature energetic hues to promote conversations. The final approach I will discuss is the overarching identity for a school, where the school colors become the main accent carried throughout the entire building.  Utilizing the school colors encourages pride and a sense of place in students, which in turn, brings confidence and excitement. Colors for all ages Studies show that certain colors appeal to certain age groups based on their psychological development. Selecting colors appropriate for the age group, you can create an environment that supports children’s development.

  • Preschool and elementary school. Bright color schemes increase brain activity and reduce the scale of large spaces, helping young children feel comfortable.  Pastel hues work well for first- through third-grade classrooms. Light blue is often associated with safety and security.
  • Middle school and junior high. Mixes of bright and cool colors, such as fucshia and aqua, can help focus concentration. Bright greens stimulate creativity, while cool colors are calming to students.
  • High school. As children mature into adolescence, deeper, more subdued colors stimulate without leading to stress or becoming distractions. Colors such as olive green, gray and violet are good selections for high school classrooms.

A lack of color can negatively impact how students learn.  Color-deprived environments can be uninspiring and non-stimulating.  Human efficiency rates drop when exposed to white or off-white surroundings. Lack of stimulation in monotone environments can lead to irritability, restlessness, anxiety and excessive emotional responses. Neutrals should be used, but not monochromatically. Color clearly plays a significant role in designing learning environments for students of all ages.  Color should not be considered just an esthetic element, but a vital function of the space, as it has a strong influence on the emotional feelings and physical health of the students.

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