Co-creating the design
It was particularly important that students should have their say in how they would like to use their new space. Before starting the project, the Demco team carried out a co-creation consultation workshop with a selection of sixth form students and staff to hear exactly what they wanted from their new environment. Combined with other feedback this helped inform the design, space planning and choice of furnishings. The overall design brief was to create a calm space away from the rest of the busy school.
Feedback from the workshop clearly showed that students wanted to have choice in the way they worked, whether it was individually or in groups, side by side but privately, spreading out or keeping close, moving intuitively or between spaces to suit the need of the moment. An intuitive design gave them autonomy in how they used the new space, compared to their old library which provided a more formal, traditional library layout.
Balancing private and collaborative study space needs
The consultation also highlighted that students wanted to have quiet spaces where they could concentrate on their studies without distractions. Exam times were particularly stressful, so it was important that the interior design and furnishings should accommodate maximum numbers of students without compromising comfort or individual space. Careful space planning and flexible furnishings ensured they had the right balance of personal, collaborative and study space. The design incorporated acoustic solutions to achieve this balance.
Students also asked for a mix of individual and collaborative study spaces with quiet and silent study areas. Space was maximised by incorporating Demco’s bespoke ‘sawtooth’ workstations as a space-saving alternative to standard workstations, at the same time giving students an element of privacy.
Large format study tables give students the space they asked for to spread out books and papers and the tilt tops and castors mean that the tables can be moved and easily nested when not needed. Two pods were installed to give students discrete areas where they can study privately or work collaboratively around a large screen.