It is essential to incorporate a careful balance between flexibility and adaptability of use in new learning spaces, and the design should aim to provide a range of spaces which allow teachers and students to choose where they learn. Some degree of acoustic separation is also required to help reduce distraction from other activities.
A flexible design provides a more flexible learning space (FLS) as also required by the Ministry of Education (in the recently released DQLS document). Provision of break-out spaces, with a good level of acoustic separation while maintaining flexibility and connectivity are some key factors in creating these.
Designed by Pacific Environments Architects, the recently completed Northern Health School located on Queen St in Auckland City features Potter Interior Systems' DS Series bottom-roller 4-slider system, which was used over an 8.9m opening to achieve a flexible learning space. This aluminium framed glass slider system (complete with Halliday Bailey flush-pull handle) can seamlessly slide/stack away into a wall pocket — opening this space up fully when in the open position. When closed this system provides the necessary acoustic separation between learning spaces whilst maintaining connectivity/vision through the glazing and natural daylight (from external windows) which is easily transmitted into these learning areas.
The Potters DS Series aluminium system is flexible in that it can be used to create various types of internal doors including hinged, pivoting and also bi-folding — all of which can be useful in these types of environments, as well as in commercial office spaces.