A staff room is a vital area within a school. One can quickly identify the school’s culture within moments of entering this room. It is a place that staff frequent between classes, where colleagues meet and discussions are both work related and unrelated. It is often either buzzing with talk or dead silent. Staff rooms can be used in a variety of ways, however, in this case the main uses include:
- A place to eat, drink
- A place for the staff to connect/share/be inspired
- A place where staff meetings are held
- A place to escape
- A place to find out information
- A place to read (e.g. newspapers/education magazines)
I pondered on:
- How effectively the room fulfilled these roles?
- How could the room better serve these roles?
- Which of these roles was most important?
Through immersion, as noted by Kumar, 2012, pp.87-127, I better understood the environment and absorbed the needs the area met. Moving into the synthesis stage, outlined by Melles, Howard, Thompson-Whiteside, 2012, I became aware of the design thought that had gone in to setting up the room. The room has been specifically set up to influence the way staff interact with one another. The couches have been positioned in a circle. This encourages all staff to be included in conversations, and also eliminates the temptation of staff having private conversations. Visually the room is aesthetically appealing, clean and tidy. The furniture is comfortable as well as light allowing flexibility in the layout. Hanging in the middle of the main wall is the informative whiteboard listing date, timetable cycle, events and staff absentees.
During the ideation phase, noted by Procter, 2009, p51 I became more aware of the design positives, the negatives became more apparent. In particular, attention was brought to the kitchen area. Given that this staff area can service up to forty odd people, the current space is insufficient. There is approximately half a metre of bench space either side of sink. To the left of the sink on the bench rests a toaster and sandwich press leaving limited unused space. Hovering above these two items is the microwave. Over the sink are two shelves that house mugs, these shelves are wide between and the mugs are stacked one on top of the other leaving many with a chipped rim. Below the sink is the storage for the Zip Tap unit within the sink. To the right of the sink lives the coffee machine, a well-used appliance, again leaving limited bench space. Above the coffee machine are cupboards which house plates, bowls and platters. Beneath the bench are drawers that store cutlery, towels, gladwrap, and odd bits and pieces.
The main objective seen at this point in time would be to transform the kitchen area. Areas for attention include:
- The bench space would need to be extended to cater not only for the number of appliances but also ensure people have workspace when making their beverages/food.
- Creating cupboards and shelves better suited to their needs – e.g. enough shelving so that mugs are not stacked.
- Moving the refrigerator to create more space and extend the bench and cupboard space.
Surely, this image is an indication of limited bench space …
The room is restricted due to the nature of the building as it is heritage listed and that the externals of the building must be maintained. The building is sandstone having long narrow windows that limits certain areas from having benches.
Prior to designing this brief I had the opportunity to investigate an additional 2 other staffrooms areas as well as reflecting on previous schools of employment. Ironically, all areas researched and thought about all were flawed by a common problem, lack of bench space. Staffroom designers should take into account that these areas are heavily used during certain times of the day e.g. recess and lunch. During discussions with the target audience, many commented on the need for greater bench space in the kitchen area.
Where to from here ….
The first step would be to formally connect with colleagues and gauge how they felt the area could be improved and what aspects of the area they felt worked. Video the area and track the movements within the space. Analyse the video and make adjustments to design brief if necessary.
As it stands today …
Design Ideas …
Kumar, V. (2012). 101 Design Methods : A structured approach for driving innovation in your organization. CSU Library http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=861699
Melles, G., Howard, Z. & Thompson-Whiteside, S. (2012). Teaching design thinking: Expanding horizons in design education. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences 31 162 – 166
Procter, J. (2009, December 18). Creative problem solving for managers. Taylor and Francis 49-80 http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=496374