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Turning Unusual Buildings into Innovative Classrooms

With the news that the UK will require an extra 570,000 secondary school places by 2025, local authorities and schools must begin planning where these additional students will be placed. Alongside expanding existing buildings and developing brand new sites, some local authorities are looking into repurposing old buildings into new schools and classrooms. Here we have a look at some of the more unusual and inspirational buildings and sites being turned into innovative learning environments for the next generation.

London-Police-StationImage Credit : Nigel Howard

London Police Stations

Students of the future could find themselves studying science and maths at former police stations. In 2014, the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that disused police stations in the city would be reopened as free schools. The over population of the capital has made it difficult for authorities to find buildings in which to open free schools.

Fast-forward to 2017 and although several planning applications have been rejected, amongst the free schools which have successfully moved into old police buildings include Fulham Boys Academy and Harris Primary Academy East Dulwich.

Underground-SchoolImage Credit: Wesley Null, John Ross Null, and Danny Parker

New Mexico Bunker

At the height of the Cold War the New Mexico town, Artesia, felt it was in danger of attack from the Soviet Union and built and underground bunker. After the Cold War ended, the bunker was no longer required for protection and instead continued to be used as a school for the town’s children. The completely underground school benefitted from a playground on its roof and 800 kilogram blast door.

The school was one of the few in the world to be able to withstand a 20-megaton blast and resist the effects of radiation.


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Argentinean Football School

The River Plate School in the Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires, educates roughly 2,000 students within the football ground of one of the nation’s biggest teams. Fans of River Plate can send their children to school within the hallowed halls of the stadia from nursery to university. The football team is a huge part of the city’s culture, so it’s only fitting that it is the centre of education for so many Buenos Aires students.


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Chinese Caves

The mountainous Guizhou province is one of the poorest regions in China, receiving minimal government support. This led to local authorities opening Dongzhong Primary School in the middle of a cave network in the 1980s. With almost 200 students, some of which travelled for hours every day to attend school, the caves were filled with primary school age children learning from dedicated and intrepid teachers.

Floating-Schools-of-NigeriaImage Credit : Andrew Esiebo for the Guardian

Floating Schools of Nigeria

With little dry land upon which to build and a need for additional classrooms, the schools of the Nigerian village of Makoko are built upon the sea. Volunteers from around the world teamed together to build the floating classrooms for local students, as well as home, so families and school authorities don’t have to pay costly land taxes.

If any of these examples have inspired you in the search for much needed extra school places, the Innova Design Team can help you maximise classroom space. For a full range of our services and to see examples of our work, email us or call one of our dedicated teams on 0161 477 5300.


To find out more about Innova’s inspirational classroom case studies, visit our General Classroom page.