Despite widespread awareness of the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic, there has been little success in affecting healthy and lasting change. Initiatives like longer gym classes, nutrition classes, and mandatory standing desks have failed to turn back the tide. But what if the design of a school itself could be used to prevent obesity? The redesigned Buckingham Elementary School in Virginia does exactly that.
“The architects worked directly with public health researchers to change a long list of details based on current research, from designing a kitchen with dedicated storage space for local, seasonal fruit, to placing healthy meals at kids’-eye level in the checkout line. In a teaching kitchen, third-graders can learn to make healthy meals from the foods they grow in the school garden …. Beyond the healthy eating interventions, the school was also designed to keep kids more active, with features like inviting stairways, walking paths, and furniture that flexes as students sit, so they aren’t completely still.”
From colors to materials, furniture to layout, the entire building is a classroom. This new frontier in design-centered health intervention in an academic setting, instills the lessons of healthy living for life.
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Photo by Tom Daly.