Interior Escuela de Madera A Baiuca

Wooden schools. Sustainable present and future

The use of wood in school design and construction contains many benefits, which is why it is now widely implemented. Over the years, this approach has proven to be a sustainable, healthy and aesthetically appealing option for creating enriching educational environments. By employing wood as the primary material, it opens up new architectural possibilities and fosters a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding environment. This makes wooden schools a very potential alternative for the development and construction of this type of function.

Wooden school A Baiuca
Façade of A Baiuca Wooden School © Héctor Santos-Díez

Benefits of wooden schools

One of the highlights of wood construction is its contribution to environmental sustainability. Wood is a renewable resource, as it comes from responsibly managed forests. Unlike other building materials, its production requires less energy and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Opting for wood in school construction, a much-needed element in society, contributes to reducing the environmental footprint and mitigating climate change.

Additionally, wood in the school environment provides health and wellness benefits for students. Wood has the unique ability to regulate humidity in the environment, which helps maintain optimal relative humidity levels inside classrooms. This helps to improve air quality and reduce the risk of respiratory problems and allergies.

Children Village - Central courtyard
Central courtyard of “Children Village” in Brasil © Leonardo Finotti

Tested studies on the subject

It has also been observed that students in schools built with wood experience a greater sense of calm, improved concentration, greater creativity and better academic performance. In a current field study with the Holzcluster Steiermark at the Hauptschule Haus im Ennstal, classrooms were conditioned using solid wood and others were not. Psychophysiological measurements taken periodically of students in the different classrooms showed significant differences between health parameters mainly in heart rate (as an indicator of stress). Significant advantages were consistently found in classrooms with wooden equipment.

The studies also showed that students in the wooden classrooms saved about two hours of cardiac work per day. During the night, students in wooden classrooms recovered significantly better than their peers in the standard classroom. Overall, students in classrooms with a high proportion of wood enjoy demonstrably healthier lessons, according to this study.

Music room of the wooden school Tuupala
Music room at Tuupala Wooden School © Ville-Pekka Ikola & Mikko Auerniitty

Versatility and environmental health

Wood also stands out for its versatility and flexibility in terms of design. It is a material that allows for a wide range of architectural options and customization. From structures to cladding, flooring and furniture, wood adapts easily to different pedagogical styles and needs. Its malleability allows for the creation of functional and aesthetically pleasing educational spaces, fostering an environment conducive to learning and creativity.

Wooden school Arimunani
Indoor classroom at the Arimunani School in Palma de Mallorca © José Hévia

Another important aspect is the wood’s ability to sequester carbon. As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store this carbon in their structure. Using wood as a building material promotes carbon sequestration and storage, which helps reduce CO2 emissions.

In addition to the technical and environmental benefits, wood in schools brings a natural aesthetic and a connection to nature. The presence of wood creates a warm, welcoming and visually pleasing environment for students, which can positively influence their emotional and mental well-being. This nurturing environment promotes greater creativity, concentration and learning productivity.

Interior space of the school Borgafjellet
Central interior space of Borgafjellet School, Norway © Hundven-Clements Photography

Interesting examples of wooden schools

We can clearly state that designing and building schools using wood as a primary material provides a number of sustainable, healthy and aesthetic benefits. From reducing the environmental footprint to improving indoor air quality, wood offers a holistic approach to creating educational environments conducive to learning and student well-being. Just as we’ve seen in the examples in this article, we invite you to learn a little more about several of them on our blog.

Schematic model of the design of educational centers with wood.
Conceptual model for wooden educational centers @ OMA
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