Learning Spaces

Tents Could Be Used to Support Return To School After Lockdown

Social distancing could be maintained with a concept already trialled successfully in Denmark
Above:  proposed pop-up classrooms including hand washing facilities (© Darc Studio)

London-based architecture studio, Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture (CLTH) has released a new concept to help mitigate restricted circulation routes within schools and maintain the necessary social distancing among pupils and staff when schools reopen. This follows the latest announcement from the UK government on its plans to allow primary schools in England to reopen to select year groups from June.

Based on initial research and analysis carried out by the team at CLTH, the concept aims to address the challenges which many schools in the UK and beyond will face when they reopen. This temporary provision will help liberate existing internal school space taking the pupil load off circulation areas, but also enhance air-flow contributing to individuals’ well-being.

Above: Curl la Tourelle Head’s proposed pop-up classrooms in a residential street setting (© Darc Studio)

The idea sees a series of pop-up, tent-like structures, each of which is arranged to follow the two-metre social distancing rules with the adaptability to host different classroom setups. The architects propose reusing resources such as marquees and portable bathroom facilities from outdoor festivals that would otherwise be dormant during the current pandemic.

Where appropriate, renewable energy sources can also be provided on site in the form of PV arrays and solar evacuated tubes for hot water heating. Clockwise movements within and outside the structures will be encouraged, in a similar approach to Buddhist stupas to avoid crossing over between individuals.

Above: Social distancing within classroom (© Darc Studio)

Simple and adaptable, the concept can be applied to different outdoor settings; from football pitches to pedestrianised areas and neighbouring parks. It also suggests opening up and using public spaces in unconventional ways that might not be thought of previously; for example, maximising the use of closed residential streets and encouraging safe community integration as lockdown eases.

Above: Curl la Tourelle Head’s proposed pop-up classrooms in a school field setting (© Curl la Tourelle Head)

Wayne Head, Director, CLTH, said, “In contemplating with our children on how schools might return to normal after the lockdown, my partner Marianne Christiansen inspired me to consider outdoor learning, something that schools in Denmark have already adopted for their classes using tent-like structures.

“Our education design team, led by my colleague Simon Bumstead, then carried out a series of studies and came up with the idea of transferring a proportion of teaching provision into temporary structures, using large-scale tents typically seen at festivals.

“This is by no means our answer to what classrooms should look like in the future. We wanted to use this as a catalyst for further discussions, to rethink how schools can be designed and used beyond COVID-19.”

Above: Different classroom setups that allow social distancing among pupils and staff (© Curl la Tourelle Head)

A longer version of this story will be appearing on the Learning Spaces arena of TeachingTimes