Schools are spaces reserved for learning, but their design also plays a critical role in how much of the learning takes place within the institution’s walls. Studies show that students absorb more information in an environment that is both pleasing to the eye yet also functional. Through proper design and execution, you can create inspirational spaces that kindle creativity and protect the users’ well-being while encouraging collaboration between members.
It is important to note that effective design is more than just what goes on the four walls of any space. Flooring materials can also create an impact. There are many decorative flooring options available on the market, and each one has a unique set of characteristics.
Here are a few factors to consider when picking the right flooring material. Whether you are designing inspirational spaces for learning, enticing students to enroll, or reducing your maintenance costs or use of resources, you can use the same factors to achieve these goals.
1. Sound absorption and acoustics
Any type of distraction or disruption can reduce performance. The same is true when working at home, in an office, or at a warehouse.
Sounds permeating through the walls, whether they come from a busy hallway, other classrooms, announcements made through the loudspeaker, noise from external traffic, or even sounds from the HVAC system, can become a distraction. Sounds like these, however minute they may seem, can make it harder to understand instructions and thus hinder classroom performance.
The issue gets exacerbated in larger spaces such as lecture halls, where listening becomes more difficult the farther away the student is from the board. Similar concerns may also arise if the student is hearing-impaired or if the medium of instruction is in a foreign language.
Consider any potential ambient and external noises when choosing your flooring material. Decorative concrete floors, for instance, can enhance the echoing or reverb of noises. On the other hand, cushioned carpet tiles can absorb some of the excess sounds, which makes them ideal for use in libraries and lecture halls.
2. Room purpose or use
Flooring material can promote specific behaviors while discouraging others. As mentioned earlier, concrete, stone, or hard surfaces increase the amount of noise that saturates in the air. Hallways, basketball courts, and other similar environments encourage people to talk louder or partake in activities that make a lot of noise in order to get their message through above all the racket. Remember, though, that it makes sense to have harder surfaces in rooms where students are taught how to make water bottle rockets or other messy activities.
The opposite is true in spaces where there is wall-to-wall carpeting. This plush material can be found in fine dining restaurants, museums, and conference halls, all spaces where noise needs to be reduced or minimized. Using carpet tiles in areas such as the library or playrooms for toddlers creates the same effect, encouraging quieter discussions among users.
3. User safety
There is a lot of activity that goes through the school halls every day of the week. As a result, injuries due to slips and falls are relatively common.
Hard surfaces are easy to clean and maintain, but can be slippery. A little bit of fluid, whether it comes from a session of mopping, students walking in from the rain or heavy snowfall, accidental spills, or other reasons can turn the floor into a potential hazard.
Carpeting offers more traction and thus reduces the likelihood of slips or falls. Plus, given the soft material, injury is minimized as the carpeting can absorb some of the force during impact.
4. Air quality
One of the less discernible aspects to consider concerns air quality. Dust particles, bacteria, and viruses are so minute that the naked eye cannot see them. They are everywhere, but the amount that permeates in the air can affect the health and well-being of the people inside the space.
Students can get sick more frequently, while teachers will find it challenging to teach to a distracted crowd or complete other tasks. Finding a flooring material that is easy to clean and maintain is key to a healthy and productive school population.
This is one of the advantages of hardwood, stone, or cement floors. The hard, flat surface makes it easy to clean and disinfect. In some cases, sweeping and mopping with a solution of soap and water is all that it takes to clean the surface.
Compared to hard flooring surfaces, cleaning carpets is trickier. The soft, plush material holds onto dust, dirt, hair particles, allergens, and more. Cleaning requires regular dry vacuuming to keep the surface clean.
Floors That Suit Learning Spaces
The material you choose for flooring is just as essential as any other surface. Sound absorption, air quality, safety, and the use of the space are some of the factors that can influence your choice and options of flooring. Consult designers and flooring experts to learn more about your options and get ideas on what can transform your classrooms from drab places to inspirational spaces for learning.
James Prathap is one of the Directors of NGC Nafees, top importers and exporters of wallpapers, floorings and fabrics in India. The business also offers high-quality panoramics, coordinated fabrics, and creative stickers for residential and commercial projects.