New Take on a Study Space




Project Overview 

At my school, Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, South Carolina, many students are unable to find a quiet area to work and complete their studies, and instead of using their time wisely, students often resort to sitting in the cafeteria or library and hanging out with friends in a distracting atmosphere. The main purpose of this building is to create an environment in which students can relax while maximizing their time out of class in order to complete their studies.

By creating this environment, students, teachers, and tutors will be able to dive into schoolwork and teachings in the independent and group study areas. This environment will be achieved by incorporating nature that joins with modern features of the building to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere within the building. Certain aspects will include water features, the use of aged wood to bring the outdoors into the building, and the use of natural light that will allow those in the room to feel as if they are outdoors. The building will primarily be made of concrete with steel beams for support (to support the vaulted ceilings of the building) and will then be designed with a wooden shingle exterior, lively colors in the interior that coincide with nature, and wooden frames that shape around the steel support structures.

While this area will primarily be used by students, it also has the potential to provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of the day for teachers. The two classrooms can be transformed into “rejuvenation rooms” through the use of roll away desks. 

This building will also be energy efficient, relying on solar energy and natural sunlight for the lighting and power of the building.

By providing students with the option to utilize their time out of class to complete their studies in a relaxing environment, students, as well as teachers, will be able to escape the stress that school brings along to focus on the work at hand in a calm atmosphere.


The purpose of this building is to provide an area that will cultivate deep inquiry and exploration within a relaxing environment. Too often, students have blocks of time throughout the day that go to waste due to an environment in school in which it is hard to focus and do work. Students then go home after extracurricular activities and face hours of homework. This building will solve this issue as it will provide students with a way to escape the distractions of school in order to focus on independent or group work. Pressure is around every corner throughout the years of high school for students, and this space seeks to provide an avenue for students to center themselves and improve their mental health within this peaceful and rejuvenating area. This space will both increase the productivity of the students at the school and decrease the stress students carry.

Can you imagine studying in an environment like this??


Client Interviews

I conducted client interviews with faculty and students at my school to find out what would provide a relaxing environment for them and whether or not they would use this space. From these interviews, I gathered that the use of wood and natural materials would provide this sense of relaxation for the clients. As the teachers and students would be the people who would primarily use this building, I thought it was important to seek their ideas. They suggested the use of wood, natural lighting, open spaces, and cool relaxing features such as a water fountain inside of the building. The input I received from the potential clients was very helpful in my design process, and I feel that I was able to include several aspects of their imput in my design such as large windows for natural lighting, open areas, and the use of wood (both on the interior and exterior) throughout the building.

Current Space 

The current space that will be transformed into this space is adjacent to the school and has a covered walkway that currently leads to the kiln building running adjacent to the space. The existing natural beauty is great as the view is of the woods and the natural life around the campus. The building will be oriented facing the high school (that is where the main entrance will be) in the direction of South. Wind will not be a factor as the high school and trees will protect the building from the elements. The sun will be coming in from the East, which I will utilize for natural lighting.



My Design 



Bubble Diagram (early design): 

Site plan:

Floor plan:


This building is composed of the main lobby area for gathering, 2 restrooms, 3 offices, a closet, 2 classrooms, an independent study room, and 4 group study rooms. At the heart of the building lies a courtyard that serves as the connection to nature for the building (this is represented by the empty space in the center of the image). 


The building will be located directly beside my High School. 



 (view of lobby)


 (view of independent study room)

 (view of courtyard)


 (group study room)


(this design will prevent water from flowing into courtyard, and also includes the solar panels)

Share this project
  1. April 27, 2018 by Paulette Unger

    Porter, you targeted a very significant need at our school and this design is wonderful. I am curious, have you shared this with administrators to get their thoughts? Mrs. Unger

  2. April 29, 2018 by Porter

    Hey Mrs. Unger! Thank you so much! I will share it now! Thank you for the idea!

  3. April 30, 2018 by Eden Aharoni

    I think that your “main purpose” is a real necessity. I can for sure relate to the students at your school who don’t use their time wisely during my free periods and instead hang out in the cafeteria instead of being productive with my studies. I really like the idea of how much nature is incorporated in the building, this gives us not so much a typical classroom environment which in itself is stressful. I could not imagine studying in an environment such as one with similar sounds as the one in the video. With someone who has trouble focusing, lots of noise is not something that would help me study efficiently! The designs of the building are very neat and professional. I would be very excited if my school built a building like this. Nice job.

  4. April 30, 2018 by Emi Amaki

    Good Job on your project. I hope we did have a study hall space like this where there is no background noise and just complete silence!

  5. May 02, 2018 by Mr. Clarke

    I find your design elements and all of the thoughtfulness that went into them very compelling and super-impressive, Porter. While I have not followed your progress through this course, I can tell that you have grown significantly. I’d love to introduce a building like this at our school! My only two pieces of constructive feedback are that they site you have selected may require very tough (and expensive) grading work, although I cannot immediately think of a better alternative location, and then the cost such a facility would entail, which is not exactly the main concern of the architect. Excellent work!

    • May 02, 2018 by Porter.Brown

      Thank you for your feedback Mr. Clarke! I agree that it would be a tough location as far as grading and site planning are concerned. A simple alternative could be a smaller design that works with the existing space to create a much more cost efficient project. I would love to see a design like this come to fruition at our school!

  6. May 03, 2018 by Amanda Beckrich

    This is incredibly impressive, Porter! I particularly like the inclusion of some environmentally-friendly elements in the project. It is unfortunate that so much vegetation would have to be removed in order to build this. I agree that we need to think about improving our available study spaces at school.

  7. May 04, 2018 by Kristin Bouldin Burford

    Porter, this is excellent. I love the design and idea of using natural light and creating a space that can be used by all in the upper school. As a teacher, it would be excellent to have access to a more quiet space or to class and meeting rooms that would support more relaxed learning. I think you’ve focused in on a present need and your final project is one that would be a lovely addition to the school. As Mr. Clarke mentioned, the site you chose might prove difficult due to its terrain, but I hope you share your ideas with the administration as this or something like it would be an excellent addition. Great job!

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