An analytical perspective on primary school design as architectural synthesis towards the development of needs-centred guidelines

Ron de Vrieze, Henri C. Moll

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Primary school design is balancing between end-user needs and societal interests, and between traditional and innovative approaches. In current approaches, an unbalance affects end-users’ performances and obstructs innovative school-building design. The institutional system of design should not only be more aware of adjusting the quality design indicators to end-users, but they should actually do it in combination with the increasing need for more innovation in school-building designs. Present guidelines emphasize objective rational societal and traditional interests but underestimate the subjective essences of individual end-user needs and the abilities of intelligent school buildings to meet important requirements for present and future learning environments. Based on universal human needs and dynamic mechanisms relationships, this article addresses a number of reasons that cause these mismatches. We present a theoretical analysis to establish Needs Centred Guidelines for primary school design as a methodological tool to improve the balance between the societal and end-users’ needs, and to give more insight into underlying patterns in design processes. The guidelines are based on a variety of end-user psychological, physiological and bio-physical needs. This article explains how this analytic approach contributes to the attention for end-user physical learning environment needs and to innovate school design.
Original languageDutch
Article number
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalIntelligent buildings international
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • architecture
  • school buildings
  • primary education
  • user-centered design

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