Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Non flexible dining furniture - certainly not my favourite!!
The dining experience in schools is an important aspect for students. It's the time to socialise, relax, gossip, meet with groups of differing sizes and generally catch up with friends. In some schools it's also the opportunity for staff to work with students in what is their only semi formal dining experience and where they sit at a table to eat. In one school I'm working with it is the only hot meal that some students have. Therefore dining is very important and the experience offers a range of informal opportunities for the school to work with them.
I've been doing a lot of 1:50 design work on a number of schools very recently and all have been keen to offer a range of dining furniture - small group tables, larger group arrangements, sandwich bar style, more cafe style and so on. All agree that a key part is supplying a range of furniture options, as long it can accommodate the numbers of students, is affordable and so on.
Another common point of agreement is that seating has to accommodate the varying sizes of students. A small 11 year old student needs a chair much closer than a very large 16 year old and hence everyone identifies the need for chairs / stools - not fixed furniture as in the photograph above.
These fixed units are not popular in schools I have been working in - they actually suit only a minority of students, they cannot be moved so the space in limited to just one use, something we are all against these days - all spaces in schools have to work hard to support a range of activities. Admittedly hey are strong, they are robust, they cannot be moved or thrown - but they also give the one place designed for students to relax and socialise a very institutional and not very friendly feel!