The making of the School design guide

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We receive the task from the Department of Education: to develop a design guide for Moscow schools. Starting to work.

Meeting the team from the Moscow Architectural Institute, discussing the plan of work. Starting the research. Together with the architects, visiting schools and talking to teachers, directors, administrators and students. Devoting the most attention to standard schools since the project is aimed mainly towards them. Later realizing that the principles will work for any education establishment.

Taking note of all the details.

Studying floor plans of existing schools and creating a list of rooms for detailed analysis.

Analyzing government regulations. Writing down primary requirements for the project.

Reaching a final decision on the list of rooms. Creating groups.

Creating a special section for each room which will contain information on renovation materials, furniture and finishing.

Studying the international experience. Mainly looking at schools from countries with similar climate.

Going through modern finishing materials, choosing the best for each room. Checking to make sure they meet all the regulations. Choosing the finishing for the floor, the walls and the ceiling.

The architect comes up with several solutions.

Preparing several primary color schemes and giving to the designer for further development. Making sure to take special care of teachers, we want to make their offices more comfortable. The illustrator creates separate palettes for each room.

Colors for gyms are chosen based on the architect’s recommendations with a variety of materials in mind: different colors are suggested for wooden and self-leveling floors. Specifying furniture color for the library and later for the rest of the rooms.

Realizing that we need to expand the sections as we can’t limit ourselves to the floor, walls and the ceiling.

Taking a careful look at lighting as some of the rooms will require special equipment. Studying lighting designs using the examples of schools, theaters, museums, libraries and sports complexes.

Creating graphic elements for use in wall decoration. Coming up with simple drawings and tile patterns for sink aprons in elementary and middle school classrooms.

Trying different tile laying for two-colored tiles in the entrance lobby. Deciding to use two combinations, a calm one and a contrasting one.

The illustrator draws a wonderful deer. Choosing color schemes for recreational areas.

Starting to work on the furniture. Looking at the existing options, taking note of their advantages and shortcomings.

Studying foreign examples.

Choosing furniture available on the market that would match the existing architectural plans.

Justifying our selection, showing color preferences based on the palette as well as dimensions according to the government regulations.

Suggesting arrangements that would allow to position furniture in such a way that would not make it seem cumbersome.

The art directors ask to conduct an analysis of students’ desks, the most important piece of furniture in a school.

Going through the history of student desks.

Studying foreign experience.

Looking at what is currently available at the market.

Analyzing requirements for a student’s workspace.

Revealing benefits and drawbacks of existing solutions, finding the best options.

Adding comparative tables for materials that will help make the selection and write purchasing requirements.

Starting to typeset the guide. Trying various ideas, almost immediately abandoning cross links. Deciding to arrange the guide in such a way that would make it convenient to use it both as a whole as well as chapter by chapter. This way, renovating elementary school classrooms, for example, will require reading only one relevant section.

Deciding to include inserts with government regulations and to highlight solutions that are not discussed in the regulations, but also do not contradict them.

Starting to work on the typeface icons. Creating a system for creating pictograms based on the style and proportions of a typeface.

Inspired by Emoji, beginning to draw.

Dividing the icons into sections to make sure we create them for all possible school needs. Leaving the symbols that don’t match any of the sections in Miscellaneous.

Simultaneously trying to add the icons to notices to see how they would look in real life.

Overall, we now have 215 pictograms.

Having a full team meeting twice a week to discuss new ideas and controversial issues.

Preparing the text. The editor studies the architects’ research, designers’ ideas and government regulations. The guide is intended for a wide audience and has to be easily understandable by a person of any trade, including those without technical education.

Sending the first version to the Architectural Institute. Receiving feedback, making corrections.

While our draft guide is being reviewed, the illustrator draws floor plans, bird’s eye views and other graphics. Usually, blueprints look boring and can’t reveal the entire picture, whereas illustrations can convey the atmosphere including even the smallest details.

First, we need to decide on the style. The illustrator shows two options.

The art director chooses the right one (hand drawn).

The architect explains to the illustrator the ideas behind room design, shows best practices and points out details.

Based on these instructions, the illustrator creates a 3D sketch and suggests camera angles. Next he draws lines freehand and moves on to coloring.

Making corrections based on the art director’s and the architect’s comments.

Using the same workflow to create the rest of the illustrations.

Reassembling the guide. Replacing some of the pictures, making changes and sending the result to the methodological center. Receiving feedback, making corrections. Discussing certain issues, for example how to make existing washrooms accessible.

Typesetting and deciding to present the first version of the guide for public discussion.