Children and young adults are a distinct group worthy of attention and schools are public projects that are a part of civil society. Despite the obvious importance of these institutions, there is an apparent gap between research and modern pedagogical principles, and our physical school environments. There is a need for fresh thinking – today’s schools simply don’t work the same way they did a generation ago, and a more diverse society places added pressure on them. We have worked with schools and other projects for youths as a part of strategic urban planning processes as well as individual architectural projects, always with an eye to their larger context and public function. Safety, creativity, collaboration and participation are essential components of a modern school and its societal role.