The Industrial Age gave us the assembly line. It also instilled the philosophy that education — and the school buildings where learning happens — needed to mimic that style of design, with facilities built around long corridors that file students into boxlike classrooms filled with rows of desks but little or no natural light.

But in the 21st century, education is moving away from the assembly-line mentality, encouraging students to collaborate, work hands-on, explore their environment, and continually engage with fresh ideas.

School architecture can support that model.

“There are so many schools out there built decades ago in the factory model of working and learning,” says Matt Lowe, director of design at Illinois-based DLA Architects, a firm specializing in education architecture. “Now, learning is preparing kids for the unknown and teaching them the critical skills that learning isn’t just from one person and kids absorbing, but kids need to be very active and hands-on.

Fostering collaboration and exploration, modern education architecture supports a variety of learning styles by providing diversity of space, Lowe says. A typical design incorporates breakout rooms off classrooms, or small pods of rooms, which provide a transparent view into the classroom as well as the possibility of acoustical privacy. Students can use these rooms to retake a test, or work with classmates on a group project that might disrupt the larger class, rather than being sent out into the hall, as in traditional school buildings.

Read more about school architecture by Laura Fay at The 74