Paradigm Shift in School Design


By Eishan Jain

Associate director, Eishan Jain, from our Delhi studio, discusses changes in school design to focus more on the needs of the pupil.

Understanding the end user 

We spend half of our childhood at school, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a “second home” for children. It is a long journey for a child, going from kindergarten (or nursery) to the final year at secondary school, and during this time, they will change both physically and psychologically.

Architects often approach school design from an adult level and forget the main end user, the pupils. If we were to spend a day in the shoes of a child at school then we would truly understand the everyday challenges they go through. Today, designs need to be “user centric” and in a school, the main users are children.

The approach to the school

The immediate challenge starts from the approach to the building itself, the school façade we create to attract adults, i.e. parents, investors, governors and teachers, can be overwhelming for a child who often feels insignificant starting out at school. To address this, the approach should be gentle and the scale re-balanced to welcome pupils and make them feel secure.

 The welcoming courtyard entrance/arrival shifts building at the back, which helps the building to look less towering over the children at Pacific world school, Greater Noida, India

Accessibility, safety and inclusiveness

Railings on steps and ramps leading to the school building should be reachable to all pupils, as well as parents and staff. This can be achieved by designing two height railings; for children and adults. Main door handles should be long and within the reach of children.

Two levels of vision panels on classroom doors will enable both pupils and staff to see into classrooms. This helps to keep children interested and safe from accidents, as well as ensure there is a smooth transition between classrooms and corridor space.

 Different level vision panels in classroom doors for inquisitive children in Pacific world school, Greater Noida, India

There are many other aspects to be considered, such as canteen design where there should be lower height seating and lower height water fountains etc. School buses need to ensure the height of the first step to get in and out are suitable for smaller children.

BaLA Technique- Building as Learning Aid

Learning should not only happen inside the classroom, it can happen anywhere on the school campus. BaLA (Building as Learning Aid) is a technique that encourages all elements of a building to be used as a learning resource. With the right kind of intervention, children can be taught counting through staircases, anthropometry through wall decals on corridor walls and geometry through door opening positions.


 Building as a learning aid in Delhi Public school, Meerut Road Campus, Morta, India

The aspects detailed above are often missed, not because of a lack of funds or solutions, but due to the designers thinking about the school from an adult perspective only.

An architect with the right experience and thinking will easily be able to address all the challenges a pupil may face within a school setting. The school building then becomes an enjoyable space for pupils – one that has been created to respond to their needs and grow with them. And only then does it really become the “second home” to children.

ADP is committed to designing “people inspired” learning spaces, to provide students with the best possible experience. Recent projects delivered by our Delhi studio include the Pacific World School in Noida and the Delhi Public School, Meerut Road Campus in Morta. By incorporating new ways of thinking into our designs, ADP delivers schools that support the overall development of children.



Eishan Jain

Eishan Jain

Eishan has worked on a diverse range
of designs within sectors that include education, commercial, healthcare
and residential.

His enthusiasm and progressive approach have enabled him to
efficiently lead and manage