Over recent years there has been a radical shift in thinking around the planning and design of learning spaces and education environments. Long gone are the days when students were expected to sit in lessons or lectures confined behind cramped rows of desks. User-friendly, efficient and stimulating environments are now being recognised to have a huge impact on the way students learn, behave and interact with each other. Furniture and fit out specialists are leading the way in helping colleges and universities bring an enhanced learning experience to their students.
A key area of any learning environment is, of course, the furniture. Well-designed ergonomic furniture that is fit for purpose whilst being attractive and comfortable, is crucial to a successful education environment. In simple terms, ergonomics is the term used to describe furniture, fixtures and fittings that are designed to fit the physical needs of those using the space and so providing a healthy environment for them to study or work in.
An ergonomic learning environment is a successful learning environment and so with careful planning and design, education establishments are able to deliver an inspiring study space. Using the right products is crucial to any ergonomic room design. Research has proved that the location, shape and design of desks, for example, all have an impact on the way students learn and there is now an emphasis on providing an education environment that is beneficial to students’ health and well-being. A successful ergonomic room design might include desks arranged around the perimeter of the room to allow for individual or quieter study time, whilst larger desk ‘groups’ in the centre will facilitate group discussions or team-based activities. Ergonomically designed furniture is height adjustable and may often incorporate tilt-able desk tops and height-adjustable table legs so that the furniture can be adapted to suit different users. Studies have shown that when students are reading they will benefit from a tilted desk top and a higher seat position, so furniture manufacturers have responded by producing ranges of ergonomic furniture suitable for use in schools and colleges. There have also been huge developments in classroom chairs with designs coming onto the market recently that are height adjustable and can be stored away easily to aid floor cleaning by being clipped onto the edge of the desk. Adjustable chair backs are also known to be very important in chairs as links have been made between school furniture and back pain in children and young adults. Some designs have even been manufactured to be extra heavy to prevent students tipping back on them!