Arcola Community School moves away from a 20th century “cells and bells” model of classrooms. It embraces a more flexible model, where teachers and students can choose from a variety of spaces to suit a wide range of learning activities. The design of Arcola features reconfigurable Learning Studios and special Quiet Learning Studios with soundproofing and other amenities, to accommodate students who need more focus or have special needs. There are also Seminar and Small Meeting Rooms for students to learn through discussion or project collaboration.
At Arcola, each student is grouped into a Learning Community that mimics the characteristics of home with a Commons that provides a sense of belonging and safety to the student. These Learning Communities are then grouped around the Atrium Commons, which serves to unify all of the school communities, and supports multiple learning modalities. This space can be rearranged to accommodate all school meetings, performances, films and learning groups of various sizes.
The community is also able to make good use of the school commons in the evenings and weekends when other facilities like the gym, nutrition room, community room, and vegetable and herb planter beds are also open to community use. The luminous quality and open layout of the building maximizes vantage points, and helps contribute to a safe, secure environment at night. The school’s configuration and design was highly influenced by engagement workshops and meetings where all members of the community got a voice in their new school’s design. Arcola is a true community school, not only for its multipurpose uses but also for the collaborative process behind its creation.