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Learning in Color Fall 2017: Vibrant Schools Around the World

Colors play a vital role in our daily lives and it has been proven that our activities and responses are influenced by them. For children in learning environments, studies have shown that classrooms and school buildings painted with vibrant color resulted in students with reduced blood pressure, less off-task behavior, aggressiveness, disruptiveness and improved academic performance, making it an important and much-overlooked consideration in school design. A simple paint job can positively affect students’ abilities to stay on task, perceptions of learning and emotional well-being.

02 MONTPELLIER CF038242 Eugeni Pons

‘André Malraux’ School, Photography © Eugeni Pons


Check out these three colorful schools from around the world!

Aabybro 039Photo CEBRA Mikkel Frost

Vibrant green stripes and angular roofs add character to the exterior of Aabybro School for the Jammerbugt Municipality, that architecture firm CEBRA completed in Aabybro, Denmark. The architects gave the school a roof with multiple gables to match the scale and proportion of the town’s residential buildings, as well as landmarks such as the church and town hall. The design uses one large basic shape that is cut in half and shifted, therefore ensuring aesthetic consistency between the two structures. The colorful surfaces and the incorporation of glazing creates a contrast with the solid concrete volumes, which are punctuated by scattered windows.

Aabybro 014Photo CEBRA Mikkel Frost

Aabybro 077 Photo CEBRA Mikkel Frost

Aabybro 078 Photo CEBRA Mikkel Frost

Aabybro School, Photography @ Mikkel Frost


Children can nestle into yellow alcoves and pull wooden furniture out of the walls at the English for Fun linguistic school in Madrid by Rica Studio, which uses play to teach the English language. The designers aimed to boost the school children’s creativity, imaginations and stimulate all five senses. Rather than using thin partitions to line the central hallway with classrooms on either side, the architects designed thick inhabitable walls. A folded steel plate painted vibrant yellow provides the structure for the wall. Modular trays made of light beech wood that slot above and below the framework are used for storing and exhibiting the children’s work, like a cabinet of curiosities, and are open to both the classroom and the corridor.

01 RICA EFF madrid 001

03 RICA EFF madrid 006

English for Fun linguistic school, Photography @ Miguel de Guzman from Imagen Subliminal


The Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground is the first net zero energy school in New York City, and was designed by SOM. Brightly colored window frames punctuate the textured pre-cast concrete facade, while skylights and reflective ceiling panels bring natural light deep into the building and reduce the need for artificial light. A central courtyard and play areas on the north and south sides of the building are designed to promote outdoor activity, while the photo-voltaic roof structure is trimmed with a cobalt blue cornice. On the interior, colored frames surround each of the skylights, while the rest of the interior palette is monochromatic.

02 EWING SOM PS62 0083v2

08 EWING SOM PS62 0984v2

The Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground,
Photography @ James Ewing - OTTO


Aberrant Architecture renovated the interior of Rosemary Works primary school in London with brightly colored walls and playful furniture that pays homage to the building’s Edwardian roots. The architects took inspiration from Edwardian color theory for the color scheme, which includes that light complementary colors are to be used in areas of the interior where there was plenty of natural light and to use rich complementary colors in areas where natural light was not so dominant. Therefore, each area of the school has been painted a range of intentionally clashing colors. One classroom has bright yellow walls, floors and furniture, with wooden storage walls and sky-blue radiators. In one toilet block, cistern pipes above the toilets have been painted bright blue to contrast with the lime green walls, while purple shaded lights hang over the stalls. This scheme continues into the main play area for the school, which has blue columns and green flooring. Dimmer areas of the building, including hallways, are painted a dark leafy-green.

01 Reception Classroom Rosemary Works - Simon Kennedy

06 Nursery Classroom Rosemary Works Simon Kennedy

Staircase Rosemary Works 2 Simon Kennedy

09 Year Three Classroom Rosemary Works Simon Kennedy

Rosemary Works primary school, Photography @ Simon Kennedy.


All photographs used with permission