In the case of schools, architects can leverage the transformational potential of design to improve health and well-being where students live, learn, and play.

Co-designed by a team of designers, educators, and public health researchers, the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Design Guidelines (HEDG and PADG) – incorporated in the design of Buckingham County Primary and Elementary Schools – foster a culture of wellness, both inside and out. To date, the replicable HEDG and PADG have been published by the Centers for Design Control (2013) and PLOS ONE (2015), respectively.

This week, the healthy design strategies of the HEDG and PADG have garnered global attention from Fast Company Magazine and the Center for Active Design.

Fast Company: “How Smarter School Architecture Can Help Kids Eat Healthier”

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Less than 25% of adolescents eat enough fruits and vegetables each day and only 4% of elementary schools provide daily physical education. The article describes how “smart architecture” promoting healthy eating behaviors in schools can tip the needle toward a culture shift that empowers healthier communities. In this way, the Buckingham project offers a new manifestation of “school” as a community asset and a teaching tool that can support transformational change over time.

Center for Active Design: “Kids Need Movement to Learn”

VMDO Project Designer Dina Sorensen describes how kids need to move in order to learn. “Designing schools to promote low to moderate physical activity all day long provides kids with the best context for better learning, better health and lifelong healthy habits.”