Trauma Informed Design Classroom

Classroom E220A: Trauma Informed Design Classroom by Cuningham

By designing through the lens of Trauma Informed Design, we seek to avoid negative stimuli in learning environments and create spaces that are restorative and uplifting. The design of this classroom is guided by the six principles of Trauma Informed Design outlined by Design Resources for Homelessness:

  1. Empowerment and Personal Control
  2. Security, Privacy, and Personal Space
  3. Sense of Community
  4. Beauty and Meaning
  5. Dignity and Self Esteem
  6. Stress Management

Arranging the space into a variety of intentional zones offers presenters and learners choice and control in the space. Soothing textures, plants, and adjustable furnishings create a comfortable and welcoming space.

Trauma Informed Design revolves around design of the built environment that is rooted in equity and empathy toward all occupants of the space. It is a concept that is rapidly gaining traction in the design industry and beyond, and it is important that designers can understand and thoughtfully apply Trauma Informed Design principles in conjunction with other project criteria. We must recognize the impact of the spaces we design on occupant well-being and emotions and respond by designing supportive and healing environments to resist the impacts of trauma that all people have experienced in some way.

Educational environments have a distinct challenge to address as young people today are facing considerable mental health challenges. According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, in the past decade students have increasingly reported being impaired by feelings of sadness or hopelessness — there has also been an increase in attempted suicides and students who have skipped school because they felt unsafe.
We must recognize that schools are not neutral environments. They are sometimes sites where traumatic events can take place. Schools can reinforce and remind students of class and socio-economic divisions. They are places where students may encounter bullying and discrimination from peers or teachers based on race, gender, or other identity factors. There are also educational factors such as test-taking and receiving grades that are inherently stressful.

While buildings alone cannot solve these societal scale challenges, Trauma Informed Design offers a lens through which school design can create positive outcomes and reduce harm for their occupants and communities.

Clear Touch, Intereum, J+J Flooring, MillerKnoll, VS America

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