Sunlight, fresh air and an “inside-out” space flow design can influence mental health and deter school violence.

We often talk about deterring school violence by implementing state-of-the-art security cameras and lock-down systems, but that is not enough. A building design focused on overall well being can deter negative behavior and influence a person’s mental well being.

PlanNorth Architectural Co. designed the Youth Development Center (YDC) as a prototype for this concept in the Greater Fifth Ward, one of the city’s highest-crime areas. The YDC provides intensive after school academic intervention programs for at-risk students in grades 1-6. 

School buildings can also follow the YDC prototype to include the following for additional security measures:

  • Build an “inside-out” space flow – Deliveries, such as packages from food trucks typically unloaded behind a building, are unloaded at the front for visibility and transparency. Children also enter and exit at the side of the building, within the highest security perimeter ring with limited public view.
  • Give access to natural light and fresh air – Punched hole windows allow natural light, and high-efficiency systems add fresh air to nurture a sense of well-being.
  • Implement social design – Settings for group play and dining create an overall feeling of community. The YDC children eat and play in groups, and they have access to a variety of reading materials that can be enjoyed lying down or at tables. This influences a child’s behavior and comfort level.
  • Create a “third place” – The building serves as a primary place that is outside of school and home life for children. This teaches them places can be safe, inspiring and fun.