There is a danger that for many learning spaces, the storage may be inadequate or unfit for purpose.
Keep in mind this equation: the amount of stock that can be stored is directly related to the span of activity possible. More stock and equipment = a wider range of practical programmes. The greater the age range and type of participant served, the greater the variety of stock required.
A separate storeroom is an ideal solution. For making activities, re-ordering is less frequent, saving staff time and ensuring bulk-buy cost savings, and a greater variety of items can be kept at hand, including large quantities of paper; costumes; still-life objects; handling items; a variety of media; tools and essential equipment.
However most learning spaces do not have the luxury of a dedicated stockroom, and here the internal nature of room storage is key.
You should also plan for how you will pack away and store all of the items of furniture you will use in a space. This gives spaces the greatest flexibility of use.
No two rooms are of the same proportion or have the same requirements: storage needs to be tailored to individual spaces and programmes.
Floor-to-ceiling cupboards are rarely the answer: in high rooms, ladders will be needed to bring down stock, which can create health and safety hazards and inconvenience site staff. The least accessed shelves then become a storage space for unused clutter.
High floor-to-ceiling doors can easily warp and then do not close properly. If they are very thick, the tall doors can be heavy to move (even if they are designed to slide rather than pull open). Make sure that internal shelves are sufficiently robust so that they can withstand the weight of stacked materials without collapsing. Clever storage can be hidden in-between wall ducting and in partition walls.
Consider too that floor-to-ceiling storage excludes the possibility of permanent surfaces – useful for any room, otherwise there is nowhere to display work or even put things down. This is especially relevant when it comes to storing and moving handling collections or museum objects.
Surfaces, usually over cupboards, need multiple electricity points adjacent for plugs for many types of equipment. If you choose to invest in digital equipment you will need to consider secure storage that has a built-in charging facility. Floor plugs cannot be the only supply of power, as flexes are a safety hazard and you will need to find ways of concealing/covering the cables; wall, desk and even ceiling-mounted hanging power sockets are all options.
Materials and objects
Art, crafts, sculpture, textiles, drama, photography, 3D workshops of all kinds will need clever storage to avoid open cupboard doors spilling out a chaos of materials.
Intelligent storage may include slim metal paperstorage drawer-units for the great variety of paper always needed. Wood plan chests can have a short life with heavy use, and the drawers are heavy to use.
Most learning spaces do not have room for coats and, bags or prams. There are transportable bins and racks that can be wheeled in and out that are collapsible when not in use. These are a good solution where dedicated cloakrooms and lockers are not available. See the cloakroom section for more details.