Sarit Shani Hay Studio has designed the interiors and the furniture for the first inclusive school in Tel Aviv. The school was designed to support the inclusive learning model by creating an environment that works for everyone.
This public school, covering 2,000sqm, supports the integration of students with disabilities into regular classrooms, with the understanding that each child is unique with his/her specific needs. Twenty-five percent of the students have physical disabilities, emotional problems, or are on the autistic spectrum and interact together in a space that encourages collaboration while celebrating the diversity of the students.
"This project gave us the opportunity to explore in-depth what happens when design meets pedagogy and how can we use design as a tool for social change- as a tool for promoting inclusion, and enhancing all children's well being," Shani Hay said.
The process of developing her design concept was preceded by conversations with pedagogues and experts that understand the special needs. The goal was to translate the philosophy of inclusive education into a physical environment that promotes joyful experiential learning.
The space inspires kids to be engaged in multiple ways while enhancing a feeling of belonging and empathy. The school includes rooms for different types of classes and treatments, such as physical therapy, yoga/meditation, as well as private study.
Sustainable, custom-made flexible furniture is situated alongside intimate soft nooks in each classroom. Calm colors and natural wooden materials were used to avoid emotional overload. Life-skill activity stations promote learning through play, including a unique abacus with letters and shapes engraved on all sides for learning Braille and Sign language.
The concept of a group circle was used to create a circular seating bench split into two halves, allowing for different seating arrangements wherever possible for any child wanting to join in, for example, a child in a wheelchair.
Photography: Roni Cnaani