With funding from the William Penn Foundation, the Community Design Collaborative ran the Design AID: Outdoor Learning Ideas Competition to seek innovative and creative solutions for outdoor learning in a time of global crisis – and beyond – to bring students back to school as soon as safely possible and to expand opportunities for outdoor learning in the future.
School buildings have a limited amount of square footage to address the proper social distancing necessary for all students to return to school, but the typically underused schoolyard can be used to expand learning environments to the outdoors. Throughout history, open-air classrooms have been used to prevent the spread of disease, and outdoor learning has been shown to have physical, emotional, and social benefits for kids.
Architects and designers were encouraged to submit ideas for outdoor learning spaces that can be easily and inexpensively implemented by schools in Philadelphia and elsewhere.
Anyone could participate! And everyone was a winner! The Community Design Collaborative compiled all feasible design solutions in the Design AID: Outdoor Learning Spaces Design Guide to serve as a digital resource for schools across the U.S. and the globe in their efforts to safely go back to school.