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High Meadow: a studio with a difference

The best places to learn are the ones where the very environment inspires students. A stuffy, dimly lit classroom with old-fashioned furniture and 1950s' school desks isn't going to get creative minds popping - and that's why the amazing new education centre of High Meadow Studio is so incredible.

Light, airy and full of natural wood fittings and furnishings, this stunning space is a short walk from legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright's renowned Fallingwater building. It's no surprise, then, that it's been designed for use by architecture, art and design students at the Fallingwater Institute.

Astonishingly, this modern but rustic-looking building was not purpose-built for learning. In fact, it used to be a garage, of all things. The American firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson undertook the ambitious project of turning this underused space into something far more worthwhile - and we think you'll agree that they've succeeded.

In renovating the space, the firm extended the garage significantly, introducing plenty of room for the students to work. A major priority was light: prior to the renovation, the garage suffered from a severe lack of natural daylight. No students work well in these conditions, and especially not art and design students. The new building, which is bright and airy, is an impressive way of reusing an existing structure and making it far more appropriate for the job. Translucent double doors have turned the old garage into a sun trap, allowing light to filter through at all hours of the day.

But although this facility may seem state of the art, another priority has been keeping the rural connection alive. The new studio features an outdoor work area, allowing students to take inspiration from the lush surroundings of the Pennsylvania forest.

Inside the building, there's plenty to keep students busy, too, with a workshop and studio space. Comfort has been thought about: there are screens on the doors and windows, keeping insects away. This is an essential consideration, as most of the students here will be following summer courses.

Students stay nearby, in converted cabins a short walk from the studio. These were also designed and built by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The mixture of the rustic, rural environment and the inspirational modernist work of Frank Lloyd Wright makes for a learning space like no other. We can only hope that this studio is the start of a trend for more exciting areas to keep students inspired and motivated!


Posted by: Josh Seddon

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