Ask someone of their time spent at elementary school and you are likely to hear similar stories of boring classrooms lined with row after row of tiny desks. Elementary school classrooms lack wow factor, plain and simple. Because of this, the renown architecture firm Daniel Valle Architects took to the task of remodeling a South Korean elementary school to feature something spectacular: Shape-shifting walls. Now, teachers at Seoul’s DSSI Elementary School have the ability to dramatically alter their classrooms to fit with the day’s lessons.
Whereas traditional elementary schools typically feature a door for students and teachers to reach a breezeway or hallway and a door (perhaps) connecting to another classroom, DSSI Elementary leans on an entirely free-flowing floorplan. To accomplish this, Daniel Valle Architects started from scratch. That is, the firm tore out the existing floor plan and completely re-built the school’s interior. After constructing two horseshoe-shaped classrooms, Daniel Valle installed hinged walls which pivot to help create new spaces while also outfitting the rooms with windows capable of letting in an abundance of natural light.
“The new school’s philosophy has to do with sharing spaces to study and providing a diverse number of possibilities to educators to perform new pedagogical practices,” the project page reads. “The two rooms in the existing condition were duplicating spaces for playing, studying, meeting, [and] sharing.”
What is most impressive about the new layout is that the architects included a way for the walls to completely open the two classrooms up to each other, helping foster group activities between the two groups. Additionally, storage cubbies and coat hooks were included in the build to allow the students a proper place to store their things instead of stashing them at their desks.
“Sharing spaces and common areas to study can be problematic when other activities or people passing by overlap,” the firm added. “Therefore, the design proposed a system that allows both: the possibility to share the common area that at the same time can give certain privacy from others.”
A novel and innovative way to help boost productivity while allowing teachers a new way to instruct their students, Valle’s facelift of DSSI Elementary appears to be the best way to update the typically drab setting of an elementary school classroom.