“The class is obsolete.” With these words in 2011 the architect, Prakash Nair, brings to mind the need to rethink the didactic space, pointing out, as a legacy from the industrial revolution, the class organised into rows of desks squeezed into a narrow space. In Italy, the first signs of a change in thinking about the function of school spaces was initiated through observational research conducted by “Indire” in 2012. Research then supported the design of the “New guidelines for school construction”, published by the Italian MIUR [Ministry of Education, Universities and Research] in 2013. And whilst waiting for the technical specifications, several schools nevertheless started to rethink the relationship between space and learning and began to explore new ways of using space despite the structural limitations caused by the impossibility of changing the school spaces in an incisive way. The guidelines describe five paradigmatic spaces identified as significant models of learning environments, based on a “performance” logic that makes them versatile with respect to learning objectives as long as movable, comfortable furnishings are used that can support differentiated teaching activities, often accompanied by the use of online, digital technologies. The Agora Space, the Class Space, the Laboratory Space, the Individual Space and the Informal Space, thus described in the “Building Guidelines”, constitute micro-environments and represent the alternative to the traditional conceptual model. The aim is to start a process of change at an intermediate level before building schools without classes or with spaces with so few characteristics that they can be modified at the simple request of users, students and teachers.
(Cannella, G. The informal space: from the guidelines for school construction to practical implementation. In «Turris Babel», 97, Alto Adige Architecture Foundation, Bolzano).

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The Guidelines renew the criteria for designing the school space and equipment for the new millennium. This is why they have moved away from the prescriptive style of previous guidelines, dating back to 1975. The new logic is, in fact, one of “performance” and makes the design criteria more easily adaptable to the educational and organisational needs of a constantly changing school. The internal architecture is reorganised, provided for a different concept of space from a teaching organisation model that remains anchored to the centrality of the front-facing lesson. The new Guidelines propose modular spaces which can easily be configured and which can respond to ever-changing educational contexts, malleable and flexible environments, functional to the most advanced teaching and learning systems. In fact, if teaching methods change, breaking away from the front-facing approach, constructing new school buildings will also have to meet completely new architectural parameters and criteria and the organisation of the space.

Editorial staff

New 2013 guidelines for school construction published by MIUR [Ministry of Education, University and Research], whose design activity was supported by Indire research

Type: Regulation

This contribution is part of the theme
Regulations and guidelines