• Over 200 student designers worked with professional designers using programs like Minecraft and CAD to design ideal classroom
  • Collaboration highlights homegrown innovation and the future of education and educational architecture and design
  • The program, a joint effort between Kidzink and Nord Anglia International School Dubai, embodies student-centric design and curriculum and may provide a framework for all educational design

Dubai: An innovative collaboration between a home-grown educational design firm and a UAE school will lead to a classroom designed by students in Minecraft built in Dubai. The initiative which started in October 2023 was spearheaded by Kidzink - an educational design and manufacturing firm dedicated to building a bright future through fostering potential, sparking creativity and inspiring minds - and Nord Anglia International School Dubai (NAS Dubai), a leading international school in Dubai.

Launched in October, over 200 NAS Dubai students between the ages of 10 and 11 were tasked with designing their ideal classroom as part of a Design, Innovation, Computing and Enterprise (DICE) curriculum model, all under the guidance and support of Kidzink’s team of educators, designers, builders, architects and manufacturers.

A Student-Centric Design Process

Kicking off the 4-month initiative, the young people worked with Kidzink designers to imagine exciting, well-being-oriented spaces that they themselves would like to learn in. The process saw the students research, design, prototype, test, and evaluate classrooms that align with the DICE curriculum, emphasizing wellbeing and inclusion. 

After an initial judging round in November that saw the students’ designs assessed on creativity, practicality, alignment with the DICE principles, and the incorporation of wellbeing and inclusivity elements, three student groups were shortlisted. These three teams of two to five students each were chosen for their innovation and adherence to the project’s objectives. The student teams then worked with Kidzink’s team to refine their designs incorporating feedback received during the judging process, aligning their designs with the practical and aesthetic requirements of a dynamic learning environment.

In January, the student designers then presented their final designs at Kidzink Dubai Headquarters to an audience of educators, designers, educational stakeholders and peer designers. The winning entry – imagined in Minecraft - was from a three person team comprising students Hridaan Shewakramani, Euiseo Jeong, and Omar Abouricheh.  Designed in Minecraft, a design-oriented video game, the entry will be built  by KidzInk for  NAS Dubai as a learning space in the school.

According to Kidzink Interior Design Director and judge Zarveen Saleem, the winning team’s exemplary application of the design process, coupled with exceptional presentation skills set them apart: “The team’s work was creative and visionary and it truly inspired us at Kidzink. Their ability to breathe life into their ideas within the Minecraft platform was nothing short of amazing, illustrating the powerful synergy between learning and play, creativity, and technology.”

The Future of Education and Educational Design

Established in Dubai in 2017 but with a global footprint, Kidzink has been known and recognized for its pioneering approach to educational design that to date, has touched the lives of almost half a million students across 450 schools. For Kidzink, the collaboration highlights a number important aspects of the future of educational design and the innovative nature of the UAE’s education sector:

“Dubai is a global hub of innovation and cultural exchange and home to one of the world's most competitive education markets.  We have been entrusted by some of the region’s and world's leading educational regulators and providers in designing and building learning communities and our work with our partners, clients and stakeholders like NAS Dubai, and its students highlight how we are not only able to keep pace with educational and design trends, but really set them globally, said Elfyn Jones, Director of Innovation at Kidzink. 

“This particular project is indicative of a growing movement towards student-centric design, and what better way to center students than to actively engage them in designing spaces that are designed for them.  Along with being an enriching experience for us just as much as it was for the students, it also gave us first-hand insights into what students actually want and need in a learning environment, something that we will continue to incorporate across all of our work,” added Zarveen Saleem, Kidzink’s Interior Design Director.

For its part, NAS Dubai which adopted the DICE curriculum in 2022 said that the program highlights the belief that students should actively contribute to shaping their own learning environments, according to Pamela Cuthbertson, a Primary DICE teacher at NAS Dubai.  “Students have always been and will always be in the best position to know what facilitates their learning most effectively. As educators it was thrilling for us to watch how engaged our student teams were in the design process alongside the Kidzink team. The designs created will translate into real life spaces and we look forward to exploring that further with the Kidzink team.”

Keeping Students Front and Center

In looking at future implications of the program, Kidzink’s Saleem added, “The success of the program signals a paradigm shift in how educational spaces are conceived and created. This project can serve as a detailed case study, showcasing the practical applications of student-led design and really what it means when we seek to imagine, design and build spaces and educational  communities that are as engaging and  are empowering, spaces that foster  positive change in society. This exercise serves as a valuable case study that we will take forward with other clients, as well as share with other stakeholders in the industry.”

For more information on Kidzink, visit: https://kidzinkdesign.com

For more information, please contact:
Dawn Barnable
​​​​​​The B Collective for Kidzink