Schoolchildren in Denmark generally do not get enough physical activity. This has been shown by a report from the Danish Health Authority. The report concludes that three out of four 11- to 15-year-olds are moving too little.
The Danish Health Authority recommends that children be physically active for 60 minutes a day. And with the Danish primary school reform, it was decided in 2014 that pupils in all grades in primary school should be active for an average of 45 minutes each school day.
School interior design and architecture can have a positive impact on how much children move. That is the conclusion of the Skole+ project, which is supported by the philanthropic foundation Realdania, the Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Activities and the Sports Confederation of Denmark.
The school can provide a framework for activity
In Skole+, six projects have illustrated how to promote movement by renewing the existing architecture rather than building new constructions – to inspire the nation’s other schools.
“In Skole+, movement is conceived of in completely different ways and in completely new places than what we have been used to. For example, the corridors with fire ladders, mirrors and running tracks. This encourages new forms of movement, and thereby different pupils and more types of pupils use them,” says Gertrud Øllgaard.
She is an anthropologist and head of expertise at NIRAS, which was responsible for evaluating Skole+.
Assessment of the project shows that students are using the new facilities intensively and even more innovatively than was planned. They use them in ways other than anticipated, and the high level of activity requires adaptation to prevent wear and tear and noise.
“Children generate a lot of noise and activity when they’re having fun. And that means materials and interior design must be able to withstand vigorous use. At the same time, the environment often needs to be optimised so that it can accommodate the higher level of activity,” says Gertrud Øllgaard.