Monday, 14 March 2016

Under stair spaces - use them!

A good use of under stair areas

It is always amazing how often I visit brand new schools where the area underneath stair cases is not considered.  They are rarely used well and most frequently become a wasted space where junk gets thrown. There seem to be three normal strategies.

a) Pretend that they are not there and just leave them as a totally unusual space where mischief can often happen.  These areas are usually out of sight and a magnet for potential misbehaviour.  In the worst case there are low barriers of what look like scaffolding poles to keep people out.  All this does is create a very silly, ugly and wasted area.  In the photograph below from a school with a very sculptural wooden stair case in the middle of a large commons area, there is real wasted space underneath, guarded by a low rail.

A real waste of space

b) The next strategy seems to revolve filling them in for storage or cleaners cupboards - at least that is a better solution... but not ideal

c) Thirdly, and most usefully, put the stairs where they can be seen and passively supervised - and then use the space for learning - creating a small area for quiet social space, learning intervention  or small group work.  With carefully designed stairs, and considering all the H&S issues, these spaces have the potential to enhance the school environment.

It's a pity that more schools do not think about the potential benefits of these areas from the very beginning.

1 comment:

Paul Chau said...

I would think that it would look rather unsightly for all schools to use their under stairs area as a storage space. I like the idea of a reading nook though! Definitely something that would benefit the kids better!