Document Deep Dive: The Classroom of the Future, Today

A new portable schoolroom boasts environmentally features that will save money and create a space more conducive to learning

With many schools busting at the seams, about 7.5 million students in the United States today are being taught in more than 300,000 portable classrooms. Sadly, architect Allen Post says, “These classrooms are often times dark. They are often times loud, and they are not really conducive to learning.”

A few years back, Perkins + Will, an architectural firm with offices in major cities worldwide, started devoting some of its minds, including Post’s, to the problem of how to build better spaces for today’s students—in urban, suburban and rural areas. The firm leaned on its experience designing more than 2,500 schools in the past 75 years, and released Sprout Space in January, a sustainably built modular classroom fit for the 21st century.

The 1,008-square-foot Sprout Space is a ready-made solution, outfitted with a photovoltaic array on its roof, a nifty rainwater collection system and space for an educational garden. Unlike other portable classrooms, this one has plenty of windows. “There have been studies that show that natural daylight in the classroom increases student performance up to 21 percent,” says Post. For approximately $150,000, the classroom can be transported—in pieces on two semi-trucks—anywhere in the country and constructed in 60 days.

In fact, Perkins + Will recently erected its very first Sprout Space on the grounds of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Visiting students will be in the classroom every weekday morning this year, participating in the museum’s educational programming in conjunction with the exhibition, Green Schools.

I spoke with Post, who led the Sprout Space project, about the structure’s environmentally friendly features. For a tour, based on this conversation, click on the highlighted portions of the photographs, below.

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