EDUCATION WINNER
Buckingham County Primary and Elementary Schools | Dillwyn, VA
VMDO Architects PC | Charlottesville, VA

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Design Statement:
For the complete overhaul of these schools, the architect designed and coordinated the architecture, interiors, graphics, and landscape with the understanding that design decisions can impact school practices and, subsequently, healthy behaviors among children and community members. Working closely with the client as well as public health scientists, the design team integrated healthy design strategies into the comprehensive re-design of the K-5 campus. To document the effects of these healthy strategies, the design-research team co-created "Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture" (CDC, 2012). Currently undergoing analysis by the research team, this replicable set of guidelines provides new insight into how school environments can promote healthy eating behaviors, support active communities, and reduce incidence rates of childhood obesity. Both the interiors package and indoor-outdoor educational spaces reinforce the guidelines by utilizing building and landscape features to educate and "nudge" the school community towards healthy life-long decision-making. The integrated graphics and interiors – including a distinct color and material palette, wayfinding content, and educational signage illustrating engaging facts about healthy eating, hydration, physical activity, and energy conservation – transform the school into a teaching tool. Ergonomic, flexible furniture supports novel arrangements and accommodates student movement to increase concentration and engagement. While indoors, reading nooks and study stations transform circulation pathways into child-centric "learning streets," outdoors, large-scale circulation elements such as gardens and walking paths provide active outdoor education spaces linked by foodscapes and ecological habitats. The holistic indoor-outdoor learning campus promotes integrated learning opportunities and fosters healthy, FoodSmart Kids®.
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