Classroom design: an anecdote

A trainer of the the Dr. Leo Kannerhuis had this story to tell:
“Everything was prepared. The folders were on the table in the right order, the tea-cups were ready, the program was discussed up to the minute, everything was prepared to perfection. The youngsters were about to arrive. And there they were, looking around – literally ‘around’ because the space was open and round. Then came the collective response: demolish…!”
“During the next half year the trainers had a very hard time to keep the youngsters focused; they were continuously distracted. They took materials from the open cupboards and ran around the place. They were unmanageable. After half a year this training group moved into a new accommodation. Again the trainers were in tense anticipation: how would the youngsters respond? They came in, sat down at the table and followed the program of the afternoon. Of course, during the following weeks not all went flawlessly, but it was nothing like the first half year.”

What was the difference? The former accommodation was round and cluttered, the spaces weren’t separated; the kitchen and living room were both used for the trainings. The interior was colorful and busy. The new accommodation, by contrast, consisted of clearly separated spaces and its design was close to boring.

This was a learning experience, testifying that the arrangement and design should clearly express its purpose. The character and the arrangement of the furniture, the colors or rather their soberness must communicate a oneness of purpose in which quiet and silence are paramount.