Design Share Awards 2008

The goal of the DesignShare Awards is to find learning environments that champion innovative design concepts and educational programs. Teams of educators and architects that submitted projects were asked to describe ideas that enhance learning, as well as provide innovations in planning, programming and design to facilitate education. The DesignShare Awards program recognizes projects that support the learning process with their design, anticipate change and inspire unimagined possibilities.


Hazelwood School For The Multiple Sensory Impaired

Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom
Designer: Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop Architects
Program: Alternative Learning Environment, ages 2 to 19
Capacity: 60

Hazelwood caters to 60 special-needs students, ages 2 to 19. Each student has a combination of two or more of the following impairments: visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive.

The design focuses on creating a safe, stimulating environment for pupils and staff. The architect set out to eliminate an institutional feel and worked to avoid conventional details, creating a tailored design that incorporates visual, aural and tactile clues.

The school is set within a landscaped green space that sits adjacent to a large public park surrounded by mature lime and beach trees. The building snakes through the site, curving around the existing trees and creating a series of small garden spaces to maximize the potential for more intimate outdoor learning environments.

The choice of materials was of great importance. The architect developed a palette of highly textured natural materials that are stimulating to touch and smell. Naturally weathering timber, reclaimed slate tiles and zinc were used on the exterior.

The International School

Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Designer: Studio Leon Thier
Program: Alternative Learning Environment, ages 5-16
Capacity: 1,800

The International School is a meeting place for 1,800 students from 80 countries. Community is the central theme of the school and all the age groups are located in one building, around a central plaza. The school sets two important tasks for its students: Learn the importance of social issues in life and care for the earth.

Several sustainable components are included in the design, such as floors that are cooled in summer by a low-energy adiabatic cooling system and warmed in winter by decentralized low-temperature heating units. Sunscreens are also part of the strong, manor-like architectural image.

The heart of the school is formed by a high, elongated atrium illuminated by daylight. Media resource centers, art rooms, sports facilities, a canteen and a theater are located around the area, which serves as a town plaza.


Trias VMBO

Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Designer: Studio Leon Thier
Program: Alternative Learning Environment, ages 12 to 16
Capacity: 1,800

This school for preparatory vocational education has mock environments for all types of jobs including office and catering spaces, and workshops for engineering and fashion design. All of the spaces have their own shop at a village square — the heart of the school.

The school principal and architect worked together to convince politicians of all parties to help the facility become a symbol of the belief that building a new educational facility could redevelop the famous Zaan region as a trades and crafts region. The school was designed as a factory-like block with facades of tiles found in the region’s historic sheds.

School Without Walls Senior High School

Location: Washington, D.C.
Designer: Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects
Program: High School/Secondary School, ages 14 to 21
Capacity: 440

Situated in a 19th century building with a 21st century addition, this school blurs the physical and programmatic boundaries between a small urban high school and a research university, creating a seamless curriculum that stretches from secondary education to early post-secondary curriculum.

This school-university partnership also grew to renew and expand a deteriorating historic school building and create a new residence hall. The 440-student urban high school located in the heart of a major university’s academic district in downtown Washington, takes advantage of its environment by creating partnerships with the university and other resources throughout the city.

The school environment strives to blend university elements with traditional high school elements to foster an environment of educational professionalism. This is achieved with high-tech classrooms built to mirror those used by the university, and by offering wireless capabilities for laptop use and multimedia presentations.

Mothers’ Club Family Learning Center

Location: Pasadena, Calif.
Designer: Harley Ellis Devereaux
Program: Kindergarten/Preschool/Early Education/Nursery
Capacity: 80

The mission of the center is to help prepare families living in isolation and poverty to succeed in school and in life through two-generation learning. This unique approach engages mother and child in early education programs, parenting and literacy education.

To provide a high-quality learning environment that would support these goals, the organization made the decision to relocate to a new green facility that was designed for LEED Gold certification.

\ The children’s learning center is situated around a large atrium, capped by a clerestory that provides daylight. Five age-appropriate classrooms are centered on the atrium with four of the classrooms featuring sliding storefront window doors that maximize flexibility while delineating classroom boundaries. The classrooms are large and airy, with space for quiet time, art activities and creative projects. Two of the classrooms feature roll-up doors that create an indoor/outdoor learning environment. The outdoor learning center is a key element of the facility design because many of the children live in crowded apartment buildings.

Atrium School

Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Designer: Maryann Thompson Architects
Program: Elementary/Primary School
Capacity: 120

After it was forced to vacate its historic brick schoolhouse, this progressive K-6 school opted to adaptively reuse an existing 70-year-old warehouse in a residential/industrial neighborhood, rather than construct an entirely new building.

The school strives to cultivate world citizens, and saw the need to teach the children about conservation and recycling by utilizing the building as a teaching tool. The teaching philosophy emphasizes holistic education and values social development as much as cognitive and academic growth. It uses multi-age classrooms to unify all age groups.

The heart of the school is the atrium, a space for weekly all-school gatherings and daily gym classes. Carved out of the warehouse’s former loading dock, the atrium is equipped with a glass garage door, which opens to admit light and breezes. In spring and fall, the door remains open, creating outdoor instructional space.

The Children’s School

Location: Stamford, Conn.
Designer: Maryann Thompson Architects
Program: Kindergarten/Preschool/Early Education/Nursery, ages 2 to 8

This modified one-room schoolhouse for an established Montessori school is designed to support child-centered teaching methodologies. The open space encourages the free movement of children through different learning areas and environmentally sensitive design features instill values of conservation and stewardship in students.

Roof planes subtly tilt against one another to let in light from between their skewed forms and they define the classroom spaces below them without the use of walls. The building’s design stimulates the child’s desire to wander, explore and interact with the environment.

The building has a passive solar design with cross-ventilation in order to extend the seasons in which heating and cooling are not necessary. The combination of varied roof planes, wooded landscape, and an orientation toward the sun helps inspire children to think about how to be good stewards of the earth’s resources.


Matanuska-Susitna Career and Technical High School

Location: Wasilla, Alaska
Designer: McCool Carlson Green Architects
Program: High School/Secondary School
Capacity: 500

This career/tech high school is organized around community needs and evolving teaching practices. The school is situated so pathways can expand incrementally and major expansion can occur to the south. The facility allows for economical and daily transformation, as well as long-term adaptation to changing community needs.

Transformational spaces — such as adaptable labs, flexible learning areas and a reconfigurable multipurpose room — respond to changing community needs. Seismic braces located at the perimeter of the modularly designed learning spaces allow for adaptation over time to other program models, such as individual-based learning.

Sustainable features include high-performance glass, low-maintenance polished concrete floors, prefinished wall materials, highly efficient mechanical and lighting systems and a readily accessible infrastructure. 


Location: Madrid, Spain
Designer: Pablo Campos – Utoplan
Program: Alternative Learning Environment
Capacity: 250

This campus for an international energy company was planned for corporate training, specialized education and research. The proposal is an innovative style of architecture and landscape that is expected to support education, foster human interaction and exemplify sustainability.

The architect’s main goal is to create an environment that projects both internally and externally the missions of the company: sustainability and renewable energies. The campus is 100 percent pedestrian and vehicles are relegated to the perimeter of the site. The users of the campus will live there temporarily to study and research. The campus will receive solar, hydraulic, geothermic and oleic from its own facilities.

Adharshila Vatika

Location: New Delhi, India
Designer: Spaces Architects
Program: Kindergarten/Preschool/Early Education/Nursery
Capacity: 90

This kindergarten school is designed to create an educational tool with an emphasis on visual education, which promotes learning by analysis and observation. Classroom areas have large windows that overlook the corridor and exterior spaces.

Color played an important part in defining the character of the building, along with safety. The landscape was also an important aspect of design, creating strong transitions through the use of different materials and colors.

The entrance of the school is built away from the road so movement can be monitored. All the risers in the staircase for steps are only five inches high so children can access them easily.

Anti-skid tiles are used to prevent children from falling and railings are designed at children’s height. The swimming pool at the rear side has a monitoring camera that can be viewed from the reception and principal’s office.


Westminster Academy at The Naim Dangoor Centre (United Kingdom)
Gilroy High School (United States)
Park School: Katie’s Corner – Multisensory and Therapy Rooms (United States)
Menea Developed School project (Egypt)


JDT Islam (India)
Oswego Early Childhood Center (United States)
Silver Lake Regional High School (United States)
Henson Valley Montessori School (United States)
Academy of Information Technology & Engineering (United States)
Jackson Community College (United States)
Montcalm Community College (United States)
Somerset Intermediate School (United States)
J. Lyndal Hughes Elementary School (United States)
Resala Language School (Egypt)
The Bertschi Center (United States)
Santa Fe Indian School (United States)
Pine Jog Elementary School & the Florida Atlantic University Environmental Education Center (United States)
Lansing Community College (United States)