Situated among cornfields, this rural Nebraska school pairs a progressive pedagogy with an unconventional school design. Challenged with designing a high school, the design team traded discrete classrooms for flexible learning environments.
Void of siloed classrooms arrayed along anemic corridors, this solution embraces an entirely open floor plan with movable furniture and nodal learning environments. The configuration enables various teaching and learning styles. Teachers drift from area to area, similar to the student pathways. What ensues is a vibrant learning environment full of impromptu learning and exposure. Wall surfaces can be written on, access to technology is readily available, furniture is configurable and virtually any space can double as a learning environment. To reinforce the vibrancy of instructional areas, visibility from one discipline to another is maintained through plan adjacencies and sectional relationships. Volumetric undulations excite the spatial condition, adding to the vibrancy of learning. The result is a space that reflects an environment akin to a contemporary workplace rather than a school.
The interior is flooded with light through a clerestory and east windows supporting the premise natural light enhances learning ability. Intense east solar gain is addressed by canting the windows to diffuse the light while affording views to the rural landscape.
The design of this new high school breaks through clichés and stereotypes of rural schools, allowing student development to flourish in ways that surpass those of the conventional school design.