Monday, March 17, 2008

Classroom in a Donga?

Prefabricated steel buildingThe Australian slang for a portable building used on a mine site is a Donga. These are also used for prefabricated private housing in remote locations and for public buildings, including classrooms of schools. The size of the buildings is limited by the materials which can be easily transported on a truck. An example is Statewide Constructions range of buildings. These seem to be built in units of 4.35 by 10.8 m. Could a computer classroom fit in this?

The Queens University accessibility guidelines, require
workstations to have a surface at least 600 mm deep. Clear floor space is required 1200 mm deep, which can include 480 mm under the work surface. Guidelines on Computer Furniture Selection for Schools, suggests 900mm minimum between rows of desks.

Assuming the same curved designs for the fronts of desks, as previously discussed, so small could they be? Assuming that wheeled chairs are used, there is little value in making the curve of the desks less than 150 mm deep. This is because when a wheeled chair is unoccupied and pushed into the desk, it is about 150 mm deep. Therefore the unused chairs will fit into the curves this deep, effectively taking up no room. There is therefore no point in making the curve any shallower.

Assuming there has to be a straight path 900 mm between the desks, the curves of the desk will therefore result in the actual distance between the front of one desk and the opposite one being 1050 mm (900 + 150).

Assuming the room is 4200 m wider and there are rows of desks a minimum of 600 mm deep and maximum of 750 mm against each side wall, then two waling spaces 900 mm wide. This leaves a space 900 mm wide (4200 - 2 x (750 + 900)) in the center for two desks face to face.

At first glance, 900 mm would not appear enough space for the depth of two desks. However, the seating is assumed to be staggered; that is the students are not sitting directly opposite each other. One student face the space between the two students opposite. Assuming flat panel LCD screens are used and placed within 600 mm of the front of the desk, there will still be 300 mm behind the desk for the opposite student.

Assuming each student has 1200mm width of desk space, and an LCD monitor is 400 mm wide, there will be 800 mm between the back edges of the screens on each side of the student. As these screens will be 300 mm from the edge of the desk it should not look overly cramped.

It is likely that students will choose to place the LCD screens much closer than 600 mm away. Assuming the displays are about 450 mm from the desk front, they will then form a neat row down the center of the room

Four rows of 6 six student desks could be fitted in, allowing for circulation room at each end for a total of 24 students.

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