When MHTN was hired to design the new West Bountiful Elementary School, the District asked our design team to create a school that would support learning throughout the building. From this vision stemmed the idea of creating fun space that would inspire learning and creativity. Our team immediately saw an opportunity to go consult with the experts on the matter – the West Bountiful students.
Over the course of several months, MHTN worked with the District and the school administration to engage the students through several creative exercises. The goal of this engagement was to better understand what was important to the students and how that might influence the theming and design of the new school. Through a school wide-writing assignment, the MHTN team saw a common theme of “Imagination” emerge. This theme became the building block for future design discussions.
As a follow up, our design team spent time with small groups of students to explore the idea of imagination and the built environment. Students were asked to picture places where they imagine best. Students created small-scale models highlighting what they felt was important about an imagination space. The models ranged from underwater caves to treetop nests, to desert sanctuaries. These creative explorations provided inspiration for the habitat concepts seen in each of the learning communities. This student engagement directly influenced color selection, graphics, and design implementations throughout the entire school.
One key area where the result of the student engagement activity can be seen is in the “nooks” in each learning community. These spaces became the perfect opportunity for large-scale graphics that built upon whimsical interpretations of the habitat theme. The graphics combine abstraction and realism, out-of-scale and out-of-place elements, human-made objects and nature to create a landscape to spark curiosity. The pixelated edges mirror architectural elements featured throughout the building. The graphics further shape the concept of imagination by obscuring details in a dream-like fashion. These elements are unified through a color palette unique to each habitat, creating an imaginative learning environment for students, teachers, and staff.
Multiple graphics and branding elements were placed throughout the building to stitch together the Imagination concept. Additionally, a space located on the second level is dedicated as an “Imaginarium.” This unique makerspace looks directly into the multipurpose area and offers a flexible environment for students to explore and create. Spaces like this showcase the potential of looking outside the box for creative influences during a design process. West Bountiful Elementary stands as an example that student led-imagination can lead to exciting and creative spaces for new K-12 projects.
To learn more about the full project, click here: West Bountiful Elementary School