Creating an Indoor/Outdoor Study Space

Frequently people spend the majority of their time indoors, perhaps at school, home, or work. Going outdoors is beneficial for the connection it provides to nature as well as its peaceful and reenergizing quality. My project aims to create a space in which people can spend more time outdoors in an environment that is primarily indoors. Throughout my presentation, I hope you will learn more about the benefits of learning in an indoor/outdoor environment and how I would address this issue within my own school community.

Check out this 3 minute video to learn more about ways to study!

As seen in the video above, there are many approaches to maximize the time spent studying. Creating a quiet study space regularly available to students would encourage better study habits.

A Quick Survey:

Why is this project important?

My project is important because it is addressing an issue that can be applied to the lives of many people. My project aims to improve the quality of education within schools by creating unique study spaces that promote effective studying in the outdoors. In addition, the use of solar powered skylights would promote the use of clean energy by opening and closing from solar power.

Inspiration for the Project:

Incorporating both the indoors and outdoors is useful in education, so many schools are encouraging learning in these environments. For example, some of my favorite days in schools include going outside to work on a worksheet or project. I have found inspiration from these outdoor classrooms which use both the indoors and outdoors to create an effective learning space. In the middle design, there is a covering that allows for studying in the indoor/outdoor environment throughout the whole year. In all the photos featured below, I have found inspiration from the seamlessness in the design.

What are the goals of my project?

The purpose of a natural, refreshing, and quiet indoor/outdoor study space at my school would be to provide a location for various students to study and teachers to hold class in an innovative space. In contrast to sitting indoors, students and teachers could find a quiet space amongst elements outside. This space would allow for additional study spaces and classrooms that could potentially stimulate a deeper focus. In order to create a space that both incorporates aspects of modernity, consistency, and the outdoors, skylights, folding doors, wood elements, and brick would be used. The space would be constructed as an independent structure adjacent to the school. It is also important to design the structure in such a way that it can be effectively used as a classroom and study space throughout the entire year, regardless of the season or weather. In addition, it is also necessary to include a classroom and smaller study spaces that promote class, small group, and individual studying. Overall this project would focus on creating a calming atmosphere that emphasizes well being and education.

This is a short video that explains my ideas and project behind creating an indoor/outdoor study space.

How is this project unique?

This project is unique to my school because there are a limited number of study spaces within the school. As a result, the spaces tend to be noisy and distracting. Creating an additional study space would allow for students to study in an innovative space. In addition, my design also aims to create a space that can be used throughout the entire year. The use of folding doors and skylights would allow the space to be connected to the outdoors by variable amounts depending on the season. Another element of my project that is unique to my school is the location. Located directly adjacent to the upper school, my project would be situated in between the first-floor art classrooms and outdoor garden. For this reason, the design is narrow and aims to limit distraction within the first-floor classrooms through narrow windows.

Location and Users of Project

The indoor/outdoor study space would be located between the existing school and the outdoor garden. This space would be used by students looking for an innovative study space that gives them the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Oftentimes people spend the majority of their school day indoors, so creating a space that connects the indoors and outdoors would allow people to find a productive environment within the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Left: This is an image of the existing site. My proposed project would be located in between the school and outdoor garden in the open green space.
Right: This image provides a birds-eye view of the proposed site of the project. The indoor/outdoor study space would be built in the highlighted yellow space which is in the middle of the outdoor garden and school.

Different Aspects of the Project

Floor Plan: This is an image depicting the floor plan of the study space. It would include private study areas with a folding door and skylight. There is also a classroom which can accommodate larger study groups or classes looking for an innovative learning environment with two larger folding doors. The gathering space, connecting the study areas and classrooms, features several windows to draw in natural light while limiting distraction in the existing classrooms. There is also a path with an awning to connect the school and study area to allow students to travel between the areas regardless of the weather.

This is an image of a hand drawn floor plan. It is labeled with measurements and ideas for furniture.
This is an image of the floor plan in SketchUp. It was inspired by the ideas and measurements of the hand-drawn floor plan.

Elevations: The elevations of the building were designed considering limiting distraction to classrooms in the existing school and maximizing the beauty of the surrounding environment. In order to do so, the front of the building includes tall, narrow windows to allow sunlight to enter the space while minimizing distraction from the nearby classrooms in the school. There is also a pathway and awning that will connect the school to the indoor/outdoor study space. The pathway and awning would also allow students to easily move between the indoors and outdoors. The rear of the building is designed with folding doors which would allow the study rooms and the classroom to connect with the beauty of the outdoor garden.

Left: This is a hand drawn sketch of the front and rear views of the indoor/outdoor study space. It is drawn to scale and inspired the SketchUp design.
Right: This is an image of the rear of the building. There are folding doors that connect the study spaces and the classroom to the outdoors.
This is an image of the front view of the building. The brick keeps with the existing vernacular of the school while adding new elements to make the study area unique. There are windows, a door, and a pathway.

Interior View of the Project: The interior of the study space maximizes the available space and limits distraction through its simplistic design. In order to promote effective study habits, there is a folding door and skylight.

Left: This image provides a view from the exterior of the project into the interior of the study area. Inside the design is simplistic to limit distraction. The folding door takes up the majority of the exterior wall and provides a connection to the outdoors. The figure next to the study space represents me.
Right: This is an image of the solar powered skylight that will allow even more sunlight to enter the study rooms. The skylights use solar power to open based on the weather. They will allow light to enter the space.
This model shows how the folding doors will open and close to allow connection between the indoors and outdoors.

What are some impacts of this project?

This space will promote change within the school community because it will give students a new area to focus on their studies. This is important because as students study effectively, they the will be more productive. Creating this space will also inspire students to go outside more.

Throughout the process of doing this project, I have learned more about how much I value going outside to learn. Even though most schools and workplaces do not include workspaces that include the indoors and outdoors, I recommend that people look for new strategies and opportunities to go outside to enjoy the benefits of it.

Check out this padlet filled with pictures of study spaces at different schools!

Made with Padlet

Here is a brief feedback survey:

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Works Cited and Full Project

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  1. April 24, 2019 by Mr. Clarke

    Great work, Mollie. We need to take this to our business office and architects and see what might be done! Although I must say, our faded skylights that we already have are on a list for cleaning and/or replacement to restore their luminosity. I really enjoyed reviewing it!

    • April 25, 2019 by M.Folk

      Thank you! I think a space like this could be beneficial at our school. I agree, I think cleaning/replacing the skylights would help make the school feel more natural.

  2. April 27, 2019 by Shaya

    Hi Mollie! As someone who has never seen any floor plans or architectural design sketches (is that even correct terminology?) before, I was really into looking at the design parts of your project. You have clearly put in a lot of work to create the model of the folding door, the color-coded sketches, and the floor plan, and you present it a comprehensive way for somebody who is new to architecture. The course looks super interesting and I would love to have something like your indoor/outdoor study space at my own high school! Great work 🙂

    • April 28, 2019 by M.Folk

      Thank you! I appreciate your comments. I think this kind of space would be beneficial at any school.

  3. April 28, 2019 by Alex.Lepa

    Hi Mollie,
    Your project was very interesting and I liked how you took into account your own schools dimensions and needs when designing your CC project. Great job!

    • April 28, 2019 by M.Folk

      Thank you! It was fun to consider different approaches to filling the available space.

  4. April 29, 2019 by Sierra Erdman-Luntz

    Hey Mollie! I loved how you presented your modeling ideas in several different ways (ie computer generated pictures, 3D models, and drawings). Do you think added indoor/outdoor spaces should be coupled with instructions, classes, etc on how to study better?

    • April 29, 2019 by M.Folk

      Yes! I think that is a great idea to help promote effective studying.

  5. April 29, 2019 by Emma.Sheldon

    Mollie, this is AWESOME. I am a person who relies on ambience to study effectively, so I found everything about this so important. I love the idea of an indoor/outdoor hybrid space with windows and sunlight…the freeing environment of the outdoors without all the hassles that come with it during inclement weather. This project was the most creative one I’ve seen so far, also very impressive that you drew up plans for it. In conclusion, I WANT THIS SPACE IN MY LIFE!

    • April 30, 2019 by M.Folk

      Thank you for your comments! I agree, the environment that I study in also impacts how I study. I think an indoor/outdoor study space would create a regular environment that students could go to in order to establish better study habits.

  6. April 29, 2019 by Heather Gadalla

    Hi Mollie! I found this project so cool! I am a student who really appreciates studying outside (although I can’t do it very often where I live due to the rain), and think that your idea of potentially having a “cover-up” so that the space could be used in all weather conditions would be super useful!.

    • April 30, 2019 by M.Folk

      Thank you for your comments! When I was designing my project, I wanted to create a space that would not only be available when the weather is nice so that it could be used more frequently.

  7. April 30, 2019 by Emma.McGaraghan

    This is such a cool project! It is a unique idea that could really help people everywhere, both students and people in the workforce. The power of nature, particularly natural light, is highly underrated, and incorporating more indoor-outdoor space could help many in society become more productive. One question I have is how easy it would be to build these spaces. What would funding be like, and how easy is it to find spaces to incorporate your designs? Overall, really cool project!!

    • April 30, 2019 by M.Folk

      I designed this space considering the environment and space available at my own school, but I think the idea can be modified to work for any school or workspace. I also think this space could be difficult to construct due to funding.

  8. May 05, 2019 by Alyssa.Chang

    Hi Mollie! I really like the way you presented your idea. I think study spaces are so important for students. I like to work outside when the weather is nice, but I notice how loud studying outside can be. Schools should definitely start creating more indoor and outdoor spaces for students to study.

  9. May 05, 2019 by Hana.Himura

    I really enjoyed your idea of having a hybrid of indoor and outdoor study space. I liked how you actually looked into your school and figured out the location and the dimensions for the study space. I hope your school can make this space a reality!

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