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Stress Free Area ®

Sensory friendly environments for schools

The concept helps create sensory friendly environments by removing unconsciously disrupting factors from schoolrooms. The concept is implementable for teaching facilities as well as teachers’ rooms.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100

Web presence






Target group
March 2017
The end result of sensory friendly design is multisensory ergonomics. Even stress factors that go unnoticed have been removed.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

When we think about ergonomics, we often think about working postures and physical ergonomics. However, our environment has many sensory factors that can affect work negatively just the same as a poor working posture.

Excessive negative loads interfere with our concentration and our behavior. People are the subject of continuous sensory overload, and many of the stress-causing sensations go unnoticed. However, space planning often fails to include the senses and development history of our brains.

Sensory friendly design is at the heart of the Stress Free Area concept is. Both known and unconscious negative sensory stimuli, which can cause stress, are removed from the designed spaces.

Everything begins with sensitive and thoughtful design. Facilities can be designed to support alertness and activities with colors, shapes, plant elements, and by acoustics. Taking many senses into account has a cumulative effect: it is better to consider all aspects rather than just one in its entirety.

The end result is a sensory friendly environment that, like the ideal learning environment, enables focusing and communication, and builds a framework for creativity. When teaching facilities, or, for instance, a teachers’ room, are designed to support the intended function, the well-being of the entire school community is improved.

Sensory friendly design won’t need more resources than the usual design and implementation of learning environments - it only costs the effort. The solutions can usually be made with, for instance, color and furniture choices, and the renovation does not have to be expensive.

Sensory friendly design goes hand in hand with ecology, as sensory friendly spaces pass the test of time. In addition, when people feel better, they will have the motivation to maintain the facilities and make environmentally friendly solutions.

Margit Sjöroos has developed sensory friendly design and the Stress Free Area concept since 1996. The concept has been applied in offices, premises, major sporting events, as well as physical and digital learning environments.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


The innovation combines expertise in a number of disciplines with a long experience in space planning.


Stress factors that go unnoticed in the school environment diminish, which has a positive impact on well-being and working.


Stress Free Area concept spaces can be created for the same cost as any other space remodeling or renovation project.


Implementation steps

Begin by contacting Stress Free Area ®.

Agree on a visit to the space you want to transform and decide together how to proceed. It is possible to implement sensory friendly design in making a quiet corner for the classroom, for instance, but also for the entire school or campus area.

Contact information:
Margit Sjöroos

Once the initial decisions have been made, involve everyone using the space in adopting a new, sensory friendly approach.

During the process there will be workshops, allowing the users of the space to learn about the effects of senses on behavior, work, wellbeing and learning.

Interior design and space planning
During the design and planning phase, information from the workshops, the use of the space, the budget, and any available recycled elements (such as existing furniture) are taken into consideration.
Implementation and taking the space into use
The time needed for implementation depends on the scope of the project.

In the implementation phase, the inner materials and color scheme, lighting, form language, layout, moveable furniture, acoustics and physical and multi-sensory ergonomics are all taken into account.

Additional elements
Sometimes, depending on the purpose of the space, additional elements are required.

These may include, for instance, customized soundscaping or the use of sensory friendly design in digital environments, so they are in harmony with the physical learning environment.

Spread of the innovation

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