Enhancing urban learning spaces with urban furniture at school sites across San Bernardino

San Bernardino, with roots dating back to the 19th century, blends history with the scenic San Bernardino Mountains. The city embraces diverse cultures and communities, celebrating this richness with a tapestry of cultural events, festivals, and culinary delights. And as an original Route 66 stop, it’s a captivating Southern California destination. In a transformative project spanning 69 school sites and 45,000 students, The San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD), together with Vestre, has enhanced the outdoor learning spaces.

SBCUSD is a renowned institution with a steadfast commitment to nurturing the educational aspirations of its students – as their slogan says: “Where we make hope happen for students!”. Located at the heart of the Inland Empire, the SBCUSD has positioned itself as a leading authority in the field of human learning. Its overarching mission is to ensure that all students, from early education to career readiness, acquire the fundamental knowledge, skills, and proficiencies necessary for success in higher education, professional endeavors, civic participation, and economic prosperity.

They have succeeded in adapting the education to the diversity in the schools, where many do not have English as their first language. The school transformation project had a primary focus on transforming the outdoor areas of the schools to meet various needs. In areas where you have socio-economic variations, outdoor spaces, and especially school premises, are particularly important. They provide students with safe spaces for expression and places where they can meet, spend time together, and get to know each other. As Vestre says, good design should not be reserved for a small group who can afford it; good design should be accessible to everyone. By furnishing the schools’ areas with beautiful design furniture, this is precisely what they are doing, while also providing students and the local community with spaces they can be proud of and want to spend time in.

Enriching outdoor education

SBCUSD wanted to create dynamic and inviting environments where scholars could gather, collaborate, and engage in outdoor learning. The vision extended beyond classrooms, aiming to provide scholars with accessible spaces before and after school and during breaks. The project sought to inspire creativity and fresh air, ultimately enhancing the overall learning experience within the urban community.

The selection of furniture was motivated by its unique qualities. Bright and playful colors, combined with robust construction, made Vestre stand out. The creative designs added an essential element of fun to outdoor spaces, making them not only functional but also highly inviting to students and the community.

Tailored to needs and age

The customization of furniture packages played a pivotal role in this project. Middle and high school campuses were furnished in their school colors, effectively enhancing campus branding and showcasing school spirit. In contrast, elementary sites opted for primary colors to inject a spark of creativity into the urban learning landscape.

The strategic placement of gathering spaces ensured equal access for all students and catered to specific use cases. For instance, schools with a strong soccer influence positioned larger seating options for game viewing. The age of the students was also considered, with elementary sites receiving curved and circular bench options from our VROOM series for added playfulness and secondary sites receiving stand-up tabletops with chairs for a more mature feel. Picnic tables from BUZZ for social eating were also integrated, some with chess board tops for games and play.

The preliminary response from students has been overwhelmingly positive. The innovative designs and functionality of the furniture have resonated with the students, and specific pieces may have emerged as favorites due to their appeal and practicality.

“Our students were thrilled with the installation of this playground furniture, which created vibrant spaces on our blacktop areas. The natural aesthetics not only enhance the outdoor space but have provided areas for students to sit, play, and have conversations”, says Principal Adrienne Ortega from Oehl Elementary.

“The way students in San Bernardino engage with the furniture mirrors that of Oslo, Norway, illustrating the universal appeal of our design”, says Kristoffer Vestre, commercial director of USA at Vestre.

Vestre Furniture

Location: 69 schools in San Bernardino, California, USA

Vestre is a proud sponsor of World Landscape Architecture

About Damian Holmes 3274 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/