(Pedagogy + Place) & (Rhetoric + Reality) in learning space design: A decade of dialogue

"How to bring our schools out of the 20th Century" was the title of an article in TIME in December 2006. It featured a more recent take on the Rip Van Winkle fairy tale. After 100 years of slumber, Rip wakes in the first decade of the 21st century. As he walks the streets, observing the citizens of the day …

How open learning space can work for introverts, extroverts & ambiverts: D.A.R.E.

Let me give you a snapshot of myself.   I like people, I enjoy conversation. I am quite comfortable in settings where I don’t necessarily know anyone. I don’t find it difficult to strike up a conversation with a new person. I’m fairly confident communicating with small and large groups. I actually enjoy a good …

Psychoacoustics of learning environments: A people-centred approach to noise

As I write, it’s a rainy day. Our small apartment is on the top level of the building, located on a semi-busy road. Not a highway nor a freeway, more of a connection between suburbs. I’m quite used to the steady stream of traffic noise  and today, as it’s raining, so there is the added …

Innovating learning environments: 4 ways to think about sustaining change

We love the photos of cool learning spaces with funky furniture They are captivating, inspiring, but it is impossible to know the full story from a tweeted photo. Recently I’ve had numerous opportunities to talk about the context for change and  several resonating themes are emerging around people and change: That chair/table/tech won’t be the silver bullet It's …

Good school design & why it matters: 9 point checklist #RIBA #TopMarksSchool

In 2015 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded the coveted  Stirling Prize for the best new building to Burntwood School, a large comprehensive girls’ school in London. It is the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize. As Paul Monaghan, Director, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the winning architecture firm, said, “Schools can and should be …

Enabling Spontaneous Learning Environments: 5 keys to breaking free of (or within) the 4 walls

  Are you comfortable with spontaneity, creating a context for learning that is fluid and able to respond to ideas? One of the underpinning factors in the design for Manhattan and The City, the newest precinct at Northern Beaches Christian School, has been to enable the creation of spontaneous spaces. "We have created a structure whereby …

What happens when 16 architects & educators travel together in the wintry north? Part 2

  We spent five nights based in Copenhagen, including a weekend, which enabled the group to explore city and visited Hellerup Skole and Orestad Gymnasium (Senior High School) both are considered inspirational designs. We were grateful that the principal of Orestad took time to talk about the vision - “the open plan office as a school”. At …

What happens when 16 architects & educators travel together in the wintry north? Part 1

We met for dinner in downtown Helsinki on a Sunday night, our first night. We walked from our hotel through snowy streets to the restaurant, where many of us took the when-in-Rome option and chose reindeer from the menu. It was the first time we’d all been together as a group. By Thursday the group was laughing with …

Insight for schools: Trends in university learning space design, big shift from lectures to collaborative learning

For many school-based educators, one of the justifications for maintaining a traditional teacher and content focused culture is the need to prepare students for university. But what if universities are changing. There are many examples of tertiary institutions that understand the need for change. Information, lectures and resources can be accessed online, so why would …

Designing spaces for learning: 10 questions to STOP asking and 10 questions to START asking for choice, flexibility & connection

Currently I am reading Design for the Changing Educational Landscape: Space, Place and the Future of Learning (Harrison & Hutton). The book was published in 2014 and cites research and white papers dating back to the early 2000s. People were having the conversations then, the same ones that we are having now. A quote in …