Flexible Spaces in Education Design

Whether it’s a new building, an addition or a renovation, one of the most important things to consider when planning an education project is flexibility. Flexibility not only for multi-use, but for community use outside of school hours. Education facilities tend to become a cornerstone in their communities and are opening their doors to more than the student population in a variety of ways. A few examples are extended fitness center hours, specific classrooms for community education, and large common areas for events at the school.

Recently, DSGW completed an addition and renovation project at Unity Schools in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. Two major parts of the addition include a new gymnasium and a new auditorium, which are connected to a large multi-use commons area.

Unity Schools Auditorium
Unity Schools Gym







The Unity Schools’ design and planning team recognized that there was limited space for people to move around during sporting events, concerts, and plays. Therefore, a new entry leading to the auditorium, gym and large student lounge was created. The lounge features flexible seating giving students a place to congregate or study before and after school as well as during breaks. On the flip side, it’s an inviting space for community members to use who are there for events.

Unity Schools commons / community space

Another way of drawing people into the space during events was to position the concessions booth in the commons area. This not only stops people from clustering in the main hall and making it impassable, but also encourages them to use the space to its full potential.

Unity Schools concessions booth