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September 8, 2009

Earlier this year we wrote about Open Architecture Network's challenge to create a better classroom design that can accommodate the anticipated surge in student numbers worldwide over the next five to ten years. Today the winner of the challenge was announced. The winning team—Emma Adkisson, Nathan Gray and Dustin Kalanick—are all members of Section Eight Design, a studio based in Colorado and Idaho.

oan classroom rendering

Adkisson, Gray and Kalanick designed their classroom concept for the Teton Valley Community School in Victor, Idaho, which has students from preschool through 6th grade. According to the designers, Idaho has one of the most underfunded school systems in the US. Teton Valley emphasizes place-based and experiential learning for their small student body, which they hope to grow over the next few years.

As with all of Open Architecture Network's challenges, the proposed designs were developed as a collaborative undertaking between the designers and those who the final design would serve—in this case teachers, students and school administrators. Videos of those collaborative processes can be seen at the winning team's OAN page. Ultimately they concluded that the priorities for the school and surrounding community were to establish a learning environment that would be conducive to creative thinking, independence and achievement; to incorporate sustainable features into the buildings and site; to provide additional programs and spaces that could generate revenue for the school and support community-building; and finally, for the students and members of the community to learn about building and design through the process of constructing the classrooms.

oan classroom layout

The final plan for TVCS will include five buildings that will be modular and offer flexible configurations to meet various needs. The designers' concept made allowances for a pay-as-you-go approach to expanding the school's facilities, giving them time to fundraise and grow gradually. Flexible interior configurations let teachers design age-appropriate settings for students as they progress through the upper grades. The building incorporates sustainable features like straw bale walls, graywater toilets and passive climate control.

Check out the rest of the details and images of the winning entry as well as runners-up and special award winners. Over 1000 teams from 65 countries submitted design proposals for this challenge. If you are a designer eager to use your skills to support social and environmental sustainability, keep your eyes open for the next challenge from the Open Architecture Network.

oan classroom 3

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