One of the unique features of EDspaces is that attendees don’t just talk about the future of learning environments, they experience them firsthand. Attendees at EDspaces 2022 in Portland, Oregon, had the opportunity to learn in five unique classrooms designed by leading architects and design firms for the majority of education sessions being held during the three-day event. One of those classrooms — Shifting Sands — provided a unique challenge to the design team to come up with a concept for a modern classroom for adult learners that incorporated products from nine companies participating in the EDmarketplace buying consortium: Mumble by Design, Ghent, Hirsh, Group Lacasse, Paragon Furniture, Lesro, NOOK, Jonti-Craft, and Screenflex.
Classroom Design Process
The concept of Shifting Sands was meant to support a variety of learning styles from large group collaboration to independent learning. With that in mind, the space incorporated biophilia’s impact, incorporating nature into classrooms by integrating organic materials and activities to create a mindful environment. An engaging environment can encourage children to find their place and experience education in a comfortable, fun, and flexible way. “Using nature as a catalyst to support a variety of learning styles and activities, this classroom was created to be flexible, adaptable, and tactile to recreate organic connections that activate different learning opportunities,” explained Emily Czarnecki, Associate Principal / Lead Interior Designer at JCJ Architecture.
The Shifting Sands classroom is inspired by the same ebbs and flows of nature. This open and engaging space included agile furniture that allowed access to many different types of arrangements, creating an inclusive environment for all learners. Accommodating multiple learning styles, this space was designed to incorporate 3 types of movement:
- Dynamic/collaborative environment represented by the ocean,
- Presentation/discussion area is represented by a central campfire on the sand, and
- Passive/focused space represented by the sand dunes.
“We all came together to design this one space with one cohesive concept which was shifting sands,” said Nikki Snellinger, an interior designer at JCJ Architecture. “The team designed a classroom for both collaborative and individualized learning that worked great.”
The floor and ceiling elements are designed to loosely define the spaces. This allows each set to flow from space to space depending on the current activity, like adapting to a change in curriculum or space use. A variety of seating choices such as higher stools, soft seating, and mobile seats create an engaging environment for educators, learners, and presenters. The furniture enables them to quickly turn the space from a lecture environment into either an active group project area or a quiet one-on-one focus space.
The result [of the collaboration] was a polished, complete classroom that exemplified not just one, but a number of use cases for contemporary education settings.
“I really enjoyed the experience of designing this classroom with our team,” reported Scott Thorne from Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects. “I felt like we all worked well together from concept to installation despite our geographical differences, and I was impressed by the dedication of every member of the team to get the job done and to do it well. The result was a polished, complete classroom that exemplified not just one, but a number of use cases for contemporary education settings.”
“This project was an amazing collaboration with the design team and the participating manufacturers,” said Scott Beyer, EDmarketplace Director of Business Development. “I’m looking forward to working with our partners for this year’s event in Charlotte, NC!”