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  • Writer's pictureBenny Kuriakose

Getting Into The Basics of Designing a Classroom

A school is a child’s entry into the world of learning, by giving them space to wonder and nurture their creativity. It makes them question, explore, identify problems, and attempt to find solutions. The school teaches children to interact with their environment, where the classroom is compared to the model of the world. It utilizes reading, teaching, playing, and other activities as teaching tools. Children's futures are shaped by this learning, which helps them visualise the world and their place in it.

Sankalp The Learning Centre & Special Needs School in Chennai

List Of Contents

1. Planning Of A Classroom

● Linear Arrangement Of Classroom

● Classrooms on Either Side of a Corridor

● Classrooms Around a Central Courtyard

2. Size of a Classroom

3. Types Of Classrooms

4. Furniture Arrangement in Classrooms

5. Activity Corners

6. Seminar Room

7. Classroom Facilities


Pin-Up Facilities

8. Nursery Classroom Design

9. Smart Classrooms

10. Elements Beyond Classrooms

Planning of a Classroom

Planning is important for the smooth running of daily activities and behaviour management in the classroom. A good classroom planning will allow the teacher and students to be more organised and have the flexibility to conduct various activities within the classroom space.

a) Linear Arrangement of Classrooms

Linear Arrangement of Classrooms

Planning for Linear Arrangement

In a linear arrangement, the classrooms are placed on one side of a verandah or a corridor, providing a direct connection between the classrooms and the outdoor space on the other side. This allows sufficient light and ventilation for the classrooms. This type of classroom arrangement is known as a single-loaded corridor. The average height of the corridor should preferably be a minimum of 2400 mm.

Width of a Single Loaded Corridor

b) Classrooms on Either Side of a Corridor

In this type of arrangement, the classrooms can be arranged on both sides of a corridor. The classrooms can also be staggered to allow light and ventilation into the rooms. The light and ventilation in the building may be affected; therefore, open spaces can be provided between two and four classrooms. This type of arrangement of classrooms is known as a double-loaded corridor, in which the indoor spaces are arranged on either side of a double-width corridor.

Arrangement Of Classrooms On Either Sides

In this type of arrangement, the classrooms can be arranged on both sides of a corridor. The classrooms can also be staggered to allow light and ventilation intothe rooms. The light and ventilation in the building may be affected; therefore, open spaces can be provided

between two and four classrooms. This type of arrangement of classrooms is known as a

double-loaded corridor, in which the indoor spaces are arranged on either side of a double-width corridor.

Plan of a classroom arrangement with buffer zones staggered layout

Plan of a classroom arrangement with staggered layout

Double Width Corridor

c) Classrooms Around a Central Courtyard

Classrooms Arranged Around a Single Courtyard

Plan of a Classroom

In a courtyard arrangement, a cluster of classrooms is located around a central courtyard. The shared common space can be used for various activities.

Size of a Classroom

Height of a Classroom

The classroom is the basic unit of a school. The classroom size depends on the number of students, the methods of teaching, the activities conducted, and other classroom facilities. The average amount of space required by a student in a classroom varies from a minimum of 1.1 square metres to 2 square meters, depending on the number of students per desk.

Types of Classrooms

Learning between students and teachers takes place both formally and informally within classrooms. This develops the need to know and understand classroom types.

  • Regular classrooms have basic furniture, storage, and teaching facilities.

  • Activity classrooms, combine activities with regular classrooms for conducting various activities in an internal environment.

  • Seminar or theory rooms are used to conduct seminars for various age groups, exchange programs, give talks, etc.

  • Subject rooms hold demonstrations, experiments, and activities related to various subjects can be conducted.

  • Extracurricular activities, for conducting non-subjective activities like music, the arts, theatre, etc.

Furniture Arrangement in Classrooms

Different furniture layouts depends upon:

  • Number of students in a classroom

  • Number of students per desk

  • Furniture requirements and sizes

  • Activity spaces, storage spaces and other basic facilities to be provided.

A classroom layout of 40 students with single desks and benches. The area is 81 sq.m.

A classroom layout of 40 students, with a two-sharing desk. The area is 71 sq.m.

A classroom layout of 40 students with a three-sharing desk. The area is 71 sq.m.

Activity Corners

In activity-based learning, the main focus is on encouraging self-learning and allowing children to learn through the experience of the activity. This methodology can be used to impart concepts in various subjects like science, mathematics, history, etc. The activities can include singing, art work, recitation, role play, games, etc.

A space within the classroom can encourage activity based learning, for example:

  • A learning stage where a group of children can enact, perform, play, etc. This cultivates team spirit.

  • Activity corners, where children can paint, sketch, learn origami etc. This will enhance individual creativity.

A classroom layout of 30 students with single desks and benches can be rearranged in a U- shaped pattern to facilitate activities. The area is 65 sq.m.

A classroom layout of 30 students with two-sharing desks can be rearranged in a circular pattern for centre focused activities. The area is 61 sq.m.

Seminar Room

A classroom of 40 students which has a tiered layout with an alternative option. The area is 73sq.m.

A classroom of 40 students which has a tiered layout with an alternative option. The area is 73sq.m.

The height of the furniture varies according to different age groups.

Classroom Facilities

Facilities like blackboard, pin-up boards, storage for school bags, cabinets for books and stationary, storage for teachers, are the basic necessities that can be provided for in the classroom.

a) Blackboard

The sides of the blackboard used to write study material.

Provision of a large blackboard allows teachers to keep the study material on the sides of the board as reference for the students. The centre portion of the blackboard can be erased and utilized.The height of blackboards from the floor level is important for children to reach the board while standing, as well as to view it when seated.

Pin-up facilities are generally placed on either side of the blackboard to pin up pictures, maps, reference sheets related to the subjects taught in class.

It is generally the same size as that of the blackboard.

Different room sizes can have various proportions and sizes for the blackboard and pin-up boards on a classroom wall.

This will ensure efficient use of the wall area in the classroom.

Ways in which the light enters the classroom based on the location of windows

It is advisable to not have windows directly opposite to the blackboard so as to avoid glare and discomfort for the students in a class. Ideally, a classroom is best lit when windows are provided on adjacent walls of the blackboard as the teachers and the students will have a view of each other.

b) Pin-up Facilities

Pin-up facilities like pin-up boards and display walls can be provided in the classroom. Abrasions on plastered walls can be avoided by using timber rails rather than nailing directly to the walls. On a timber rail with a section size of 50×50 mm, nails or hooks can be provided at regular intervals, allowing students to put up their works, calendars, maps, timelines, etc. This also allows all the students to view and compare their works. The timber rails and the hooks can be provided according to the heights of the age group using the classroom. Common pin-up boards within the school campus for display of students’ work, artwork, and student exhibits can also be provided. Pin-up boards on an entire wall for providing the latest news and current affairs can be provided.

School Bag Storage Facilities

A one-foot-wide ledge can be provided along the rear wall of the classroom as storage for school bags. Each compartment can be approximately 450×300×200 mm in size. Depending on the number of students, the number of ledges to be given can be decided.

Shoe Rack Stand

Shoe racks are required when its necessary to leave footwear outside before entering a learning area.

Nursery Classroom Design

Nursery classrooms are generally larger in size to involve more activities for the kids. The furniture arrangement can be such that it is flexible to move around within the space, allowing center-free space for group work or free corner spaces as activity corners. The walls of the nursery classrooms can be a large surface for the young children to scribble, paint, display shapes, use tan-gram tiles, etc.

These walls can also have engraved numbers or alphabets , allowing them to learn through indirect methods by touching and following the patterns.

The window grills can be used like an abacus to learn calculation through an alternative method. Waste nuts from garages can be used for this purpose because they do not have sharp edges and are safe for children to use. Thus, the existing elements in a classroom can be utilised for a holistic learning experience.

To develop finely controlled motor skills, children need to learn to freely move their fingers and muscles in a predetermined manner. Pre-writing is an activity that requires coordination of the muscles. The design of the railing can be a learning aid by allowing children to follow the shapes on the railing, which can be alphabets, numbers, shapes, etc.

Smart Classrooms

A smart classroom is a teaching space that uses technology to teach concepts. The teacher can use an audio-visual aid, computer, etc. to explain a particular topic. Students and teachers will have to be trained to use the equipment efficiently. Smart classrooms require lockable storage provisions for keeping the equipment safe. The projector in these classrooms can be hung from the ceiling, making efficient use of classroom space.

Elements Beyond Classrooms

The classrooms lead to other building elements like doors, windows, corridors, and staircases, which connect the other indoor and outdoor spaces within the school layout.

Door Widths

Illustration showing door width with the angles along a door swing

The minimum width of the main door of a classroom is 1000 mm. The provision of a double-leaf door with a minimum width of 1200 mm is preferable. Doors can also be learning aids by showing the angles of the protractor on the floor of the door opening.

Window Sills

The window sill heights are specified for comfortable vision of the outdoors for different age groups. A sill height of 450 mm from the finished floor level can be provided for the pre-primary and primary, whereas a sill height of about 750 mm for the higher classes can be given.


For existing buildings, while re-plastering wall and column surfaces, some fun elements can be implemented for children. For example, wall boards, fraction tiles on walls, floors, etc. Board games can be implemented on the floors and in the corridors, creating activity spaces. Similar steps can make the environment livelier.

Staircase Design

A staircase shall have a minimum width of 1500 mm. As per building codes, the riser of the staircase can have a maximum height of 150 mm, and the tread of a step can have a minimum dimension of 300 mm. A landing may be provided after a flight of 12 steps to provide a break from climbing continuously.


Understanding the spatial requirements for children is the first step towards intuitively designing a classroom. Moreover, the space must aid to their growth and its design should not resemble a residence, which is intended for winding down after a long day. At the same time, the space must not encourage stress or overwork. Thus, a classroom design will play a great role in altering the mindset of a student when they step into a learning space.

For more such informative content, visit our other blogs

  1. An Introduction to Ideal School Design

  2. Site Considerations in the Ideal School Design

  3. Special School for Children With Autism and Special Learning Disabilities

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