Exterior Courtyards and Their Influence on Education

By Anushri Vachhani posted 04-23-2014 18:20


Schools are not only a place of learning but are also ways to cultivate personal progress and maturing as an individual. The architecture and history of schools has gradually evolved over the years from a typical, iconic schoolhouse made for handful students to large scale buildings that implement various other program such as cultural centers, multipurpose spaces, exterior fields, and so on. In order to enrich process of learning, different techniques and methods established through the architecture of the building help positively influence the students and their growth.

Courtyards are one way of facilitating change and positivity through the architecture that affects the education received by the students.

Out of many instances, this is evident in the North Kildare Educate Together School located in Celbridge, Ireland designed by Grafton Architects. The goals of the school design were to “integrate a significant autistic unit into the functioning of the main primary school plan,… the requirement to create a defensive building which would resist the possibility of vandalism outside school hours, and… to build economically and robustly without sacrificing architectural quality.” The whole building sits around an internal, massive courtyard where the classrooms are oriented in order to maximize solar gain. Ample sunlight along with proper ventilation is amongst two soles factors that can positively affect students’ well-being, learning process, and achievement. Circulation of the building is projected from the outside surroundings and occurs adjacent to the courtyard and therefore, protection of the students is given priority to. The courtyard also becomes a place where students gather to interact further outside the classroom and facilitate a richer flow of ideas and heightened sense of sociability. The protected, sunlight, exterior space of the courtyard becomes a simple yet effective way of enhancing the education process of the students.