Building a Sensory School Back in 2017, we were contacted by architecture firm Penoyre & Prasad to collaborate on an...Read case study
In late 2018 our sensory team headed down to London to visit the Kisharon Special School site – an old listed building, ready to be transformed into a new special school. With tall ceilings, wide windows and listed status, there were many challenges to overcome. But it didn’t take long for our design team to develop a robust sensory design proposal for the Kisharon Trust. A proposal that was alsoquickly approved by building conservationists.
Kisharon’s aim was to create engaging spaces that would provide the best learning, development and emotional support for their students. With hopes that their school could become a beacon of inclusive learning and specialist therapy services within the local community.
Our plans matched these goals perfectly.
We devised a big project involving creating four different sensory spaces designed to enrich the development of the students’ minds, imaginations, and senses.
Therapy sessions are important for children who don’t fully understand the way their bodies work. As Kisharon Special School community was getting ready to welcome disabled and severely autistic children, they were especially interested in developing a Sensory Integration space. A special space designed to develop students muscles, balance and inner confidence with the help of an Occupational Therapist.
We developed a custom swing beam that would span the full width and height of the room, allowing OT’s complete use of the room’s soft padded floor without any physical disruption. In addition, an integrated swing beam and hoist system would allow disabled access to every section of the room, perfect for every type of therapy session.
Alongside the physical infrastructure, a central part of our design was to showcase the room’s grand windows, essential to the building’s heritage. Not only would they let in lots of natural light, but it would also heighten the sensory experience, connecting the space to the outside world.
We also selected and recommended a range of sensory integration aids to be used within the space, from swings to gym balls, bouncers, rockers, scooters and more. Creating the perfect playground for OT’s to challenge and develop students motor and proprioceptive senses.
Multi-Sensory Rooms are key features of each of our installations, and we wanted Kisharon’s to shine bright as a beacon of inclusivity.
We crafted a special made to measure padded platform, to hold three brilliant bubble tubes for a spectacular visual display, along with several blooms of fibre optics for students to experience interesting, colourful visual stimulation from the comfort of their own hands.
The sensory room can also transform into an interactive playground. The bright Omi Vista+ Interactive Floor Projector provides hours of engaging sensory games, whilst a wireless Colour Cube allows users to choose and change the mood, lighting decorating the room’s walls.
Alongside the interactivity, we also wanted the room to be used for quiet moments. We achieved this by including personal sensory elements (tactile bamboo fibre optics & relaxing waterbed) and comforting spaces (resonance beanbag & illuminated ball pool).
Perfect for increasing bodily awareness and releasing pent up energy, a Hydropool was a sensory element that the Kisharon team were excited about creating. It would be a brand new sensory facility for both students and teachers to explore and enjoy.
We installed a mesmerising Hydro-Solar LED Projector within the Hydropool area so that users could fully immerse themselves within this unique sensory experience. In addition, Solar LED Effect Wheels gave the space the perfect underwater theme, heightening the calming and relaxing nature of the space.
Whilst the integrated mood lighting outside and inside the pool creates an atmospheric space perfect for hydrotherapy sessions.
To make learning spaces more conducive for students with PMLD, we recommended portable sensory units that would stimulate, distract and distil any classroom anxieties.
PMLD students had previously lacked the opportunity to benefit from sensory experiences due to the inability to access sensory rooms. Although, portable sensory items allow sensory to be brought straight to these students, at any time, any place and very quickly, with minimal disturbance for both teachers and students.
The OmiVista Mobii can be wheeled between classrooms for interactive tabletop lessons and more hands-on and imaginative learning sessions. Whilst a Sensory Voyager can be used to support students experiencing sensory overloads. Voyagers can be brought close to desks or wheeled to a quiet space in a room – allowing students to calm down and relax until they feel like they’re ready to take an active part in the class again.
These portable resources will reduce the need to remove students from classroom environments. Creating inclusive learning spaces that break down the barriers between school and sensory.
The installation process took place during lockdown.
Sticking closely to government guidelines, our dedicated installation team fitted the new sensory spaces safely and efficiently. Working in teams of two and with limited access to public services like restaurants and hotels, the Kisharon install is a real testament to our crew’s hard work.
The Kisharon project was completed in April, and the staff at Kisharon were overjoyed with the new spaces we’d created for them, “It all looks amazing. The sensory room has the most amazing tranquil feel to it. I think the staff will be queuing up to use it!” – S Mullish, Kisharon School.
And to make sure the teaching staff were familiar with the equipment, our sensory team returned in September to deliver training sessions, ready for the school’s celebratory opening day.
Overall, we’re incredibly proud of our Kisharon sensory project, and the feedback from the school trust cements its success.
“Rhino have been a pleasure to work with and communication has been fantastic. Our client is really pleased with the outcome. We will be in touch again if our clients need sensory rooms.”Project Director, Hush PMC