Sweden loves its experimental education, but here’s a venture that’s far-fetched even by Swedish standards: It’s a school without walls.
That’s right. Vittra Telefonplan, in Stockholm, was designed according to the principles of the Swedish Free School Organization Vittra, an educational consortium that doesn’t believe in classrooms or classes. So instead of endless rows of desks, it’s got neon-green “sitting islands” and whimsical picnic tables, where students and teachers gather. Instead of study hall, it has “Lunch Club,” a smattering of cafeteria-style tables on a checkerboard floor for working or eating (or both). And instead of an auditorium, it has a faceted blue amphitheater that rises up in the middle of the school like a giant floating iceberg. The place resembles a mini amusement park, only with laptops (yes, each student gets his or her own laptop).
Sounds great for the kids, but yikes, I feel sorry for their teachers. There aren’t any walls for them to order naughty little boys to face.
Designer Rosan Bosch points out that Vittra Telefonplan isn’t totally wall-free. “There are both smaller and larger closed rooms for different purposes, such as the sound-isolated Dance Hall for dancing, singing, and exercising, the sound isolated Multimedia Lab for working with film, sound, and music, as well as administrative areas and group rooms,” she tells Co.Design. There are also assorted interior decorations and fixtures that cleverly double as partitions, like the “conversation furniture,” a towering study nook that’s tall enough to pass for a wall.