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FOREWARD This volume has been prod produced by expert internship program. students taking part in an inte They are expert as they have experienced and their own education considered many years of the styles, and on different topics, in different diffe in diverse locations. More importantly they have considered what c contributions the physical learning environm environment has made The model that for their own learning. T document is bound to they present in this docum educators as they see be provocative to educato established learning spaces space dissolved into fluid transitions from one mo mode of learning to model is a plea from another. This enchanting mo all students for a freedom for learning that centre. I hope that the holds students at the centre community will be up Australian educational comm to the challenge that the Lea Learning Continuum presents. Professor Anna Reid Prof University of Sydney The Univ



NBRS+PARTNERS is a people focused practice that strives to enrich people’s lives by developing creative design partnerships. Their portfolio of public buildings, universities, schools, churches and residences exhibit an understanding of those concerns from the perspective of the people whose lives will be affected by it. Above all the firm seeks to design environments that will have positive life changing effect on people. NBRS+PARTNERS is a multi-disciplinary design practice with expertise in Architecture, Heritage, Interiors and Planning. The team of 50 design minded people have a commitment to excellence in design and enhancement of the built environment.



2025 2 20 02 25 5 The Th hee LLearning earn ea nin ng C Co Continuum ont ntin nuu uum a learning lear le arni ning g eenvironment nv n vir vir iron onment m en me nt tt that hat "j ha "just just is" i s"

“A significant part of the problem with contemporary education is that it aims to teach 21st century learners by combining a 20th century curriculum with a 19th century structure ”

During summer 2011 NBRS+PARTNERS created a unique collaboration with three students of Architecture; the ENVISION Student Partnership Program. The intent of Prensky, M – Engage me or enrage me: What today’s learners demand. the partnership was to uncover and examine the perceptions of learning and pedagogical solutions in schools by a group of fresh thinking How many conferences and pages of literature interns who were unencumbered by the in the last decade have been devoted to the segregated technologies and spatial designs of development and nurture of pedagogy and the past. learning spaces for education? For most, the predicated revolution has petered to a mere These students collaborated with the Architects whimper. Some would argue that only remnants, at NBRS+PARTNERS to discover, develop and an incremental evolution of the concept has describe adventurous concepts for learning been realised, and contemporary pedagogy spaces. This paper; 2025 The Learning Continuum finally destroys the walls. These remains rigid and fixed. graduates of 2015 demonstrate that the 19th So what new rules dictate the game? In and 20th century classrooms are dissolved 2010 the world witnessed a true tipping point, by the concept of seamless communication. a transformation of communication. The Students and teachers alike will naturally flow seamless integration of the iPhone, iPad platform from the formal to the informal, from gregarious throughout our community has created a truly to private spaces. Rooms no longer need titles new learning environment that just is? It’s time to but rather, will suggest a form of behaviour, re-examine a spatial design driven pedagogical an implicit curriculum. The student’s spatial design solution is analogous to a concept car revolution. for education from which each idea can be extracted and built upon for their own version of the learning environment of 2025. How they travel is up to them. 2025 will be an infused new era, a new culture of nurturing continual learning. No longer will learning be yesterday’s education. James Ward NBRS+PARTNERS vii


learning environments as the implicit curriculum | p1


a learning continuum | p4


the value of education | p6


an evolving future | p8


the emerging learning model | p14



envision | p50

8 7 6

a continuous idea | p48

elastic entities for the learning continuum | p40

physical translation of the learning continuum | p18

THE LEARNING continuum... ix


Learning Environments as the implicit Curriculum ENVIRONMENTAL CUES INSPIRE LEARNING AND INTERACTION When considering the very physicality and powerful presence the built environment has on influencing interaction between people, built learning environments have the capacity to become psychosocial spaces. This silent and subtle shaping of people’s attitudes towards each other can render the learning environment as one which takes on the role of an implicit curriculum; one which is not overt and didactic in style, but one which implicitly suggests the importance of respect and consideration for others. In a school curriculum, students are presented with an offering of subject areas and activities to study, however each individual selects only a combination of these, tailoring the school learning experience to their interests and possible needs. In future schools, the built environment should foster and extend this notion of offering through providing spaces that can be used and grant students understanding in several ways. Instead of prescribing uses, spaces suggest experiential learning possibilities through subtle cues and the presentation of spatial opportunities as opposed to spatial demands;


thus an awareness into worldly interaction can be gained. Immersive learning environments should go beyond just considering the needs of the people inhabiting it, but become encouraging grounds that can inspire students with a willingness to learn. Since every individual has different tastes and preferences, this inspiration may have to be manifested in several forms, such that the built learning environments of the future can remain relevant. This relevance operates on several levels for students as education becomes not just an academic exercise but a mind-set for encouraging life-long learning and discovery. Learning environments thus have the ability to initiate this learning continuum by moving away from traditional notions of schools as ‘one-stop shops’ for education, and towards a universal culture of nurturing continual learning.



con•tin•u•um [ ken tínnyoo em ]

1. continuous seamless series: a link between two things, or gradually and seamlessly that it is impossible to say where

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Learning processes no longer follow a singular ‘industrial’ mode of transaction, but should emerge as a progressive and interlinked series of collaborative teams.

A Learning Continuum a continuous series of things, that blend into each other so one becomes the next A continuum is plastic by nature, perpetually able to be reformed, thus resulting in a seamless process of progression. A propagation of the Implicit Curriculum, the continuum blends traditionally singular classrooms into an all encompassing, sweeping learning environment. Conceptually, a learning continuum can operate on intrapersonal and interpersonal planes, though both combine into an adaptable network of understandings. On an intrapersonal level, the learning continuum becomes a lifelong approach which responds to all environmental stimuli as opposed to a limited and selected basis for knowledge. Furthermore this is reinforced with a constant exchange in the development of a collective knowledge occurring on an interpersonal level. As a fluid approach to contemporary education, this notion of a learning continuum encourages a more dynamic and nonlinear path to developing knowledge yet still maintaining a progressive manner. The learning continuum extends beyond the traditional classroom, placing greater emphasis on alternative learning environments. These may include in school social spaces and out of school community environments, enhanced by the use of technology, which encourages a culture of acquiring knowledge everywhere.


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the value of education WHY DO WE GO TO SCHOOL? A learning continuum would not be progressive without a purpose. An education can be viewed as an embodiment of society’s strongest values, which include: • Respect and acknowledgment of cultural differences • The importance of equality and fairness • Allowing for individual freedom of expression • Honesty and transparency in regards to continual access to information • Developing a thorough skills base to encourage a strong work ethic • The importance of exchange and collaborative approaches • Awareness of responsibility to others and the world as global citizens • Effective communication as a means of understanding and sharing • Acknowledging the benefits of creative and innovative thinking and problem solving Schools aim to develop student social and mental dexterity through addressing these values, whilst maintaining the development of critical thinking. This higher order thinking is vital for extending the learning continuum.


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an evolving future EMBRACING THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY To be continual implies time, thus a learning continuum inextricably requires a certain context. The Secondary School of 2025 exists in the future, yet the compelling entity that is the future remains an unbounded “though trending” phenomenon, continually evolving. Society today is rapidly changing and constantly transforming – some sectors of society have adapted more quickly and readily to these changes whilst others including schools have resisted, be it consciously or unconsciously, forming gaps that must now be accounted for. Schools have lacked the integration of changing aspects of society, be these notions of technology, pedagogy or communication, as seamlessly and congruously as the needs of those present in education demand, thus providing great scope for future development. Traditionally the rigidity and uniformity of singular classrooms served past generations, yet more flexible and advanced, both technologically and communicatively, forms of education are now essential. In recognising this, attitudes towards schools and education are beginning to shift towards a more open and progressive approach to learning. An ever-present approach to learning as a continuum encompasses this change, with the ability to respond to needs both now and in catering for the future.


In the book, The ABC of XYZ1, social researcher Mark McCrindle acknowledges the constant and continual process of learning prevalent in the current ‘information’ age, a time whereby traditional cycles of life have been replaced by a certain non-linearity. Increasingly people are being shaped by stimuli and inputs from all facets in life to the point where 70% of Generation Y are non-auditory learners, thus conclusively influenced by interactive, visual kinesthetic, collaborative communication styles. It is therefore increasingly obvious that traditional notions of learning are being surpassed, and the future of learning must be grounded in evolving communication styles. Yet, McCrindle quotes, “sometimes, just as a child on a swing, we must lean back (to the timeless classics and proven basics) to go forward”2, initiating a fascinating dichotomy between the past and the future. Perhaps looking to the past is valuable in gaining momentum to project into the future. It can be generalised that the future will most likely continue a set of constants and concurrently, hold many fluctuating variables, these forming the basis for a design approach to learning environments grounded in a emerging model of education. In education, these constants and variables include:




varia b The effectiveness of active learning and collaboration

Attitudes towards teaching and ideal learning models, which are affected by generational shifts and emerging pedagogies

Resources for teaching including technology and community resources

Need for a degree of structure

The social needs of students

Schools require a physicality and identification with place

Students have unique learning and communication styles

Degree of global interconnectivity, linked to the school’s socioeconomic context

Level of school/community interaction

Modes of communication


Catering for an evolving future To cater for this evolving future, in an age of constant yet non linear environmental cues, schools must be multimodal in regards to resources, communication and scenarios.

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PEOPLE: students, teachers, community members, parents MULTIMEDIA: analogue, digital, visual, auditory, interactive technologies, tactile

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TEACHING and LEARNING STYLES MODE OF DELIVERY: online, face-to-face, written

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INDIVIDUAL tuition PAIRS GROUPS, small to large

This enhances the constant effectiveness of active learning and collaboration whereby a multitude of situations (characterised by a combination of the above) can give rise to an educational atmosphere and environment, this indeed forming the basis of an implicit curriculum. The extent to which these multimodal environments can be optimum learning environments for the future pertains to their degree of flexibility and adaptability. However, these notions are often misunderstood, and their potential to enhance learning environments is often underappreciated.

Flexibility is the ability to support the multimodal elements including resources, communication methods and people. Flexibility is associated with the notion of the malleability of the ‘hardware’ or the built form of a space. Conceptually the configuration should remain, open-minded and flexible. The question must be asked – how can this spatial design enhance all modes of the student’s learning experience? Adaptability is a real-time response to evolving student needs that can be supported by the manipulation of fixtures and furnishings. This is indeed the ‘software’ of a space. It addresses the ability for multimodal spaces to become efficient and personal environments. Catering for students to be free in their learning experience, adaptability finds its greatest relevance in fulfilling human concern.

These are the new paradigms for the architecture of educational environments.


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the emerging learning model VITALLY RELEVANT FOR STUDENT DEVELOPMENT Before these new paradigms can be implemented manifesting in a new learning model, an understanding of how students learn is essential.

experiential learning “A child never forgets what he does himself.3” It is this interaction and transaction with concepts and ideas that renders the learning experience one of value. This quote is dates back to 1910 demonstrating a constant of human nature whereby active involvement is indeed beneficial in enhancing education. Students are more responsive to ideas, and do so with greater enthusiasm when they experience situations and engage with these concepts on a first hand basis rather than passively transferring “inert4” data from one form to another. Learning is more immersive if it is cooperative, project-based and interdisciplinary, and thus information will be retained more easily. There is a need for a variety of learning styles to appeal to multiple intelligences, thus sensory teaching practices and experiences should be encouraged. In this way many modes of learning are valued including verbal, visual, kinaesthetic, logical, tactile and rhythmic.


Different modes of learning generally afford varying retention rates. Edgar Dale developed the ‘experience cone,5’ which places these modes in order according to the power of retention. As outlined in the ‘experienced cone’, the modes towards the tip of the pyramid result in lower retention rates when compared to the modes placed towards the bottom that increase retention and effect long-term behaviour, indeed enhancing student development. This again enforces the idea of active learning being an important teaching/learning strategy that needs to be considered in school design.

Collaborative Environments The most beneficial relationships between students are grounded in equality, learning and gaining insight from each other. Discussion between students is central to this learning model as it engages with higher level thinking skills including evaluation and analysis, not merely comprehension. This trains students to be critical thinkers, who, when leaving school will pertain skills beneficial in making a positive impact on their world. A ‘multiplier effect’ exists in collaborative learning whereby the more people involved in interpretation, the more thorough the concept. Learning through projects and trial and error has been identified as more effective in engaging with students and their understanding. “…kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. …And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. ” - Ken Robinson, (TEDTalk) 7 In this emerging learning model the teacher-student relationship is based upon the idea of collaborative co-learners. Although teachers take on the role of a co-learner they are autonomous and independent of the students; providing encouragement in direction as opposed to prescription. Discipline is still regarded, a natural part of the progression from childhood to the adult world. Inherently this direction becomes a source of influence, though the students have the independence to think freely for themselves. Collaborative learning blends informal and formal learning, it is indeed the breadth between purely social and rigorously instructional mentalities. Due to this important collaboration in education, the relationships between and amongst students and teachers define the emerging learning model in both pedagogy and space. The architecture results from the inextricable link between the two.


a culture of inquiry Developing a culture of inquiry within the ethos of a secondary school is vitally important in terms of setting up the foundations for continual learning for life. This notion focuses on possibilities rather than imparted content, encouraging creative thinking. Coupled with a collaborative environment, this culture of inquiry can incubate in an inquisitive hub where students can draw upon several opinions to find an answer in the collective; therefore, the learning continuum is fuelled by student inquiry. Intuitive by nature, this process calls for a “design that asks the questions” in terms of the role of architecture to inspire curiosity and the desire for discovery, i.e. a willingness to learn, after all “children will learn to do what they want to learn to do8” irrespective of who or where they are. This learning model positions the school as a community rather than an institution, thus catering for the intrinsic human desire to form a sense of connection. Since people are the most valuable resource this emerging model seeks to respect them which in turn encourages greater levels of interaction. Indeed, we are trying to avoid as Prensky aptly stated “yesterday’s education for tomorrow’s children.9”


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physical translation of the learning continuum PLASTIC POSSIBILITIES OF LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS Embodying a new approach to learning encompassing the implicit curriculum, the learning continuum represents the plastic possibility of environments which are fluid and transcendental in nature. Through reducing barriers and imposing elements, psychosocial connections can be made on both a literal and metaphorical level in the design of the built environment; connections between students, teachers, the community and beyond become the life of the building. Therefore the physical components form to blend a seamlessly integrated environment which maximizes the student experience, gaining much from the secondary curriculum. Although flexibility is advantageous to cater for future possibilities, as discussed beforehand, flexibility behaves most effectively and efficiently when it enhances the human use of a space, thus becoming adaptable. Hence, in order to create this adaptability, some structure must be evident in the spatial organisation of the learning environment to bring about certainty that can nurture student stability. “Controlled chaos� is the quality and perhaps personality of a congenial learning environment, an environment that respects the desire of youth to be trusted to be free and discover, yet understands their often subconscious desire for security.


STRUCTURED AND SOCIAL LEARNING Within the learning environment a range of spaces can be identified along a scale between structured and less-structured learning, as a learning continuum advocates a continual education in all facets of a school. Although they are facets they would not exist to fulfil their true function without each other, these mutually-dependent entities accumulate to form an integrated whole.

specialist facilities can be integrated into its adaptable design. Thus, through the implicit curriculum, the key values gifted by the building can influence every aspect of school of life.
























Manifested as an instinctive curriculum, the accumulation and interaction between the architectural elements suggests collaboration. This dynamic environment fosters conThis learning environment is designed to en- nections that become the life of the school, spaces and entities. compass the greatest proportion of the school facility, it is the central life of the school - animated and connected. The learning continuum is designed with the intent that




























a concept solution Illustrating these ideas, this concept vision presents a tangible solution as to what the learning continuum has the potential to become.


the active core CONNECTS A substantial freestanding presence, the active core serves as a vital component in the function of the learning environment. Although this core is a central entity which organises the social from more directed learning settings, the core is not didactic in its physicality; its free form lacks the rigidity that can become prescriptive and determinative in the use of space. SOCIAL AND STRUCTURED LEARNING SETTINGS THRIVE ON COLLABORATION Derived from the concept of a spine, the active core contains the many resources necessary for both social and structured learning settings in its bustling attitude and dynamic form. APERTURES INSPIRE AWARENESS OF OTHERS A sense of adventure and invitation is sparked through apertures forming passages between the structured and non-structured learning settings offering glimpses to form an awareness of other students. An awareness of others is vital in students gaining an authentic understanding of the world.


STRUCTURE EXPOSED The active core demonstrates its capacity to fulfil several essential functions through being integral to the building’s structure, supporting beams rising from the core, this is the intellectual property of the building, its brains and integrity.

NODES OF ACTIVITY CONVERGE The active core embodies the vitality of learning and thus seeks to represent the learning continuum in that education can and will occur everywhere, running throughout the entire school facility while too implicitly implying concentrated nodes of activity at the concave point of the circular geometry. These extend beyond the enclosed social space to suggest connections between the school and community, while also providing a framework for green space. CIRCULATION ANIMATES NEIGHBOURHOODS Circulation passing through the core instead of forming a singular passage between zones removes the need for traditional highly directed and paced ‘school corridors’. Instead neighbourhoods are created through the curvilinear plan of the core, the flipping of the social and directed learning spaces allowing for an integrated whole.


POWER RESOURCE CENTRALISED Similarly dynamic as not only a circulatory element but as a power resource, the active innovation core facilitates the integrated use of technology across both environments. LOCKER AREAS UNITE STUDENTS SOCIALLY Within the social environment, the LOCKERS are a central feature, becoming active entities within themselves. The lockers are literal recharge points for mobile devices as this is the technology of the future. The lockers are also key in the social nature of the space, the students able to sit on the lockers and participate in the casual comings and goings of such an area. The randomised nature of the lockers moves away from the often uncomfortable traditional locker room mentality, with their positioning creating an inclusive environment and further encompassing technical benefits such as providing greater surface area to dampen acoustic pollution.


HUDDLE SPOTS FOSTER SUPPORT Huddle spots taking the form of alcoves that protrude into the core offer opportunities for students to interact on a smaller personable scale. MEDIA BOARD INFORMS The active core functions as a media board in this social environment, multimedia screens encouraging presentation of school news, world news, energy consumption, environment facts, technological innovation and student work. Docks for mobile electronic equipment are embodied such that students can personalise the space with the communication devices and modes they value. SHARING RESOURCES Though being an implicit organisational device with many quintessential functions, the active connective core reinforces the importance of sharing resources and encouraging an awareness to observe the world around. SENSE OF IMMEDIACY It is this sense of immediacy, created through the busy and bustling demeanour of the wall that aims to capture students in the moment, valuing every opportunity they are presented with at school. ORIGIN OF SERVICES Within the studio space, the active core becomes the origin of services and technology that are provided to form the basis for a new mode of ‘classroom’ interaction. Also on the learning side are opportunities to present and display work within project space.


studio spaces AS THE FUTURE PEDAGOGY OF TEAMWORK TEACHER DIRECTED LEARNING EXPERIENCE As a more structured and focused learning environment, the studio spaces serve as a large component of teacher-directed learning experiences. Feeding off the active core, the studios are an extension of the core’s dynamic nature, providing opportunities to learn from a multimodal resource. RADIATING FOCUS Being based on radiating circular geometry, the space removes the traditional notion of a ‘front’ (and therefore ‘back’) of the classroom to encourage the teacher to interact with the students and become more actively involved as an autonomous co-learner. To compensate for this now lack of a singular point of focus, the spiralling set of screens slightly above eye level implies a unified centre through which students can simultaneously view other students as well as the information that would traditionally be viewed on a singular flat board. With students facing each other towards a centre, the typical studio mentality of collaboration is induced, modivating students to implement higher-order thinking skills. The studios are framed by operable screens which form a curved permeable ‘wall’; not all the screens touch the floor as this device is used to open the studio spaces up to embrace project and break out space, as well as indicating an entry point. These screens are also important in terms of the acoustic treatment of the space, dampening the sound of many students in discussion RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN STUDIOS Through placing the studios in duos along the active core, a connection is formed between classes taking place concurrently, as well as providing ample mediating space for two classes to combine, reinforcing the importance of the students’ association and awareness of other people.

The configuration of the studios with curvilinear desks directing students’s focus simultaneously to the centre of the studio and to each other stipulating a culture of collaboration.



project spaces BORROW FROM GREATER SOCIETY STUDENT OWNED LEARNING Project spaces offer a chance for students to take greater responsibility for their own learning. Removed from direct teacher influence, project spaces present the chance for students to work at their own pace, similar to a culture found in workplaces. Housing long-term projects, the space is an incubator for a culture of inquiry, as well as providing practical space for students to monitor their own work out of studios. Symbolically, this student-ownership of the space becomes evident in the squarer geometry, which is an appropriation of the circular geometry representing universal learning. Display space is also prevalent in project space to initiate pride in the students’ capabilities, as well as advocating that students can learn largely from other student’s projects in partnership with their own work.




breakout spaces TRANSACT WITH SURROUNDING LEARNING A NON PRESCRIPTIVE RESOURCE Breakout spaces do not fill the in-between, but rather, are directly informed by their surrounding spaces. Surrounded by studios and project spaces as implicitly suggested zones without fixed walls, breakout spaces become fluid by nature; a smooth transition can be made to and from this space. With visibility through the apertures of the active core and from within the project and studio spaces, breakout spaces display a degree of transparency to raise an awareness of students utilising alternative learning spaces. Breakout spaces are non-prescriptive but are the most flexible in terms of their potential for use, including relaxing and acting as a social learning environment. In not only having a sense of spatial permeability but access to surrounding spaces, breakout spaces encourage students to observe their environment to be resourceful, thus the secondary curriculum is implicitly evident.


social spaces VITAL IN ROUNDED EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY TO PERSONALISE Located on the concave parts of the curvilinear active core, this social environment is of equal importance for student learning. Through being deliberately non-prescriptive and as open as possible, students are encouraged to use the space in ways they may prefer – the active wall presents opportunities to personalise the space with pin up boards and projected image space. To aid teacher supervision and to provide a sense of comfort for students, the location of these spaces on the inside of a concave curve implies shelter and protection. The use of outdoor spaces is encouraged through large operable glass panels that too maintain a visual connection.


outdoor spaces ENCOURAGE GROWTH EVER CHANGING STIMULATION The extensive benefits of education in the outdoor environment are universally acknowledged thus the learning continuum places great emphasis on the experience of outdoor learning. The social spaces are uninhibited in their access and visual connection to the outdoors through operable glass panels and doors so as to naturally and easily invite the students outside. Nature is randomised in its growth yet predictable due to the evolution of cycles, thus a fitting metaphor for the learning continuum that places value in processes of transition and development. The ever-changing presence of nature provides an always progressing set of different stimuli to not only capture and hold the attention of students but to inspire them. Furthermore students can gain an understanding of natural processes in the environmental domain, this is intrinsic to the human experience. The emerging learning model presents opportunities for students to experience responsibility, and those of the natural domain are a supreme place to start, for example in tending to the growth of a plant. Sustainable practices are obvious and evident in the outdoor spaces, highlighting to the children of the future how these modes such as solar energy and composting should become a way of life. In a physical sense, fresh air and natural sunlight pertain a multitude of health benefits in the development of children and young adults.


the building envelope CRYSTALLISES THE CONTINUUM The undulating building form instils dynamism within the instinctual curriculum of a school, while the envelopes sense of lightness represents the ease at which the learning continuum should be embraced. PROPORTIONS INDICATE FOCUS Through enclosing a space of varying heights and proportions, the envelope intrinsically suggests the degree of technical focus that students hold in each space. The purely social environments possess a ceiling that rises to the highest point in the building; this airiness and sense of void create a relaxed attitude, cueing the students to form relationships in a similar manner. Forming the directed learning areas is a slightly lower roof form to emphasis the focus required in the more academic arenas of school. Yet the structured and less structured learning areas are still inextricably linked by the beams that rise and extend following the roof form, subtly creating the implied focal nodes in the distance, the learning continuum, as it should, extending beyond the school grounds. The wide and tall openings suggested by the envelope create an inviting atmosphere for students to approach, presenting the school as a welcoming and attractive learning environment. Solutions for extending the design over multiple storeys include loft spaces for class break out and social activity, however the expansiveness of the horizontally of the design finds its value in the continuum notion of the design intent. BELOW: A conceptual diagram depicting the change in vertical heights for different learning spaces (indicative of the amount of structure)


SUSTAINABLE PROCESSES INTERACT Principles of ecological sustainability are vital in the design of a school of the future with natural lighting and ventilation requirements to maximise learning opportunities considered in the design process, since there is a direct relationship between these natural elements and the psychological character of a space. Kenn Fisher, in his report “The Impact of Student Building Design on Student Outcomes and Behaviour”10 outlined a number of positive benefits developed in the technical aspects of school design. In the paper, he quoted the US Department of Health Education and Welfare concluding “in a study of all of the primary schools in Georgia in the United States that fourth grade students in nonmodernised buildings recorded poorer results in basic skills assessment than those in modernized or new buildings. Similarly eighth grade students scored consistently higher (78% higher scores) in mathematics, ‘composite’ and vocabulary assessment if accommodated in new or modernised buildings.”


ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS EFFECT RESULTS It is understood that natural light is critical in the circadian rhythm of the human body in adjusting to day and night conditions, this informing routine, which is vital in the overall structure of a school day. It is also beneficial for students to have the potential to see out of a window from a seated position, yet well designed artificial lighting has the ability to positively affect student achievement, even in the tangible form of a grade. UV broad spectrum lighting results in positive growth and development, and even attendance of students. Particularly in a design with much glazing, this fluorescent lighting is important as it has the ability to reduce the incidence of glare. Ample solar panels are thus required for the artificial lighting of a space, and powering the active core. Air quality has an impact on student achievement, with spaces of insufficient natural ventilation and poor humidity control reducing levels of student attainment. The temperature of the learning space pertains physiological effects and instances, and thus


if the space is greater than 25oC, efficiency in terms of work output, but also the quality of work and performance are degraded, much due to a decrease in attention span. Physical bodily discomfort such as rapid breathing actually occurs in spaces such as these. Thus cross ventilation is enhanced in the design of the learning space with the air flow designed so it flows through the openings in the glazing, over the lofty space above the active core and through the building aided by the varying ceiling heights.

SUSTAINABILITY EXTENDED Sustainability is furthermore understood in terms of not compromising the future life of a building or its inhabitants, hence the value placed in creating an adaptable design.



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Social spaces Outdoor spaces Active core Learning studios Breakout spaces Project spaces


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elastic entities for the learning continuum ANIMATING EVERY LEARNING ENVIRONMENT Addressing the need for an efficient degree of both flexibility and stimuli in learning environments, elastic entities help develop the adaptability necessary to make these spaces productive and appealing places. As physical objects or embedded components within the built environment, these entities are elastic – the supple characteristic allowing workings of the space to possibly change without deforming the learning continuum as a systematic whole. This elasticity may come in an entity’s application of use, whilst other embedded components may inadvertently inspire curiosity within students. Furthermore the conversation between architecture and the human scale can give rise to an elastic nature of space, the learning continuum suggesting that learning can occur even in transcending scale. Ultimately, the learning continuum is reinforced by these elastic entities which contribute to the ever-morphing network of student understanding.


Technology IN PARTNERSHIP One of the most significantly prominent elastic entities within the built environment is technology, particularly with its potential to make internal spaces adaptable. Technology requires the provision of certain services but in turn, have advantages including: • Being increasingly mobile, the trend allowing students to take learning beyond the traditional classroom and access information from a large virtual network. • Increasingly personalised learning – with the ability for students to learn at their own pace, finding and presenting information in methods that appeal to their learning styles. • Encouraging this learning continuum through inspiring minds and increasing the accessibility of information (with the online domain).


Within studio spaces, technology including 360o display screens (LCD or LED) would allow for the presentation of information from both teachers and students. These screens should have the ability to present moving and rotating visuals as well as possessing a repeat setting allowing every student in the studio to clearly see the content. To personalise the learning experience, by 2025 a one-to-one device system would equip students with the ability to truly take some responsibility in their learning and also enhance their presentation and/or communication skills. For the application of technology to be successful as part of the learning continuum, the use of technology should be universally applied throughout the school, meaning that the technology would also become part of less-structured learning areas (i.e. social spaces).

Colour EMBODIES EMOTION Colour is an elastic embedded entity because it can change the atmosphere, approach to and therefore use of a space. Throughout our model a mixture of bright and neutral colours have been used to encourage a certain approach and even use of a space. Colour is also elastic in that the appearance of an object will change with subtlety according to the colours of the objects around, forming a ‘colour bleed’. As a non-verbal form of communication, colour subconsciously alters people’s mindsets. For the active core a vibrant orange is used to encourage socialisation and activity on either side. The colour orange also encourages creativity and its warmth suggests energy through being stimulating. A more golden orange highlights the alcoves and draws attention to these spaces to huddle, the colour a visual cue for the different activity along the core. Creating perforations through the active core, the squarer frames form small openings that are white in contrast with the orange, being comparatively calmer and more stable with its neutral quality. To encourage a sense of dynamic movement, red lines the insides of the apertures through which people circulate in the active core. To provide relief from the warm red and orange hues, furniture comes in cooler hues of dark blues and deeper greens. Altogether colour has been intentionally used to affect the school such that learning takes place in a dynamic, interesting and invigorating built environment.


Furniture INDICATES THE LEARNING MODE Throughout the built environment furniture is elastic in its placement and even use. For each space furniture has been considered to provide for a comfortable optimal learning environment, taking also into consideration methods of increasing the piece’s flexibility. SPACE




Flat curved tables, which when in sets of six, can form circles for collaborative learning settings. The six also allows halves of circles and pairs to be made, their non-fixed nature allowing for several scenarios during class time. Ergonomic chairs, which are comfortable seating and also loose, such that they can be moved around.


Fixed display areas and loose working tables allow for a more structured environment for students to direct their own learning.


All loose furniture, the breakout space emphasises the possibility of learning in a social space. Circular gathering couches with a turning circular whiteboard in the centre provide for a possibly collaborative and if not, fun alternative for group seating. Bean bags are more fluid and softer in shape, reflecting the more relaxed nature of breakout spaces as social learning environments.


ACOUSTICS SET THE TONE Of concern in largely ‘open plan’ learning environments is the amplification of unwanted noise. Collaborative learning environments in particular seek to encourage discussion, yet this is magnified on a class sized scale. To combat what is often a concern for teachers with noise as a distracting force inhibiting student learning, the acoustic treatment of each space is designed with an understanding of the interactions of the class. Noise dampening materials such as carpet and overhanging entities such as that in the studios draw noise away to allow the purest form of communication.

LIGHTING INDICATES AN OPEN MIND The lightness of a space has a psychological impact on the human mind and concurrently on their bodies. Schools are places of learning and enlightenment and thus the lighting design, combining both natural light and artificial devices, needs to initiate a sense of transparency without the instance of discomforting and distracting glare. Thus diffused light is most beneficial in areas for academic and directed educational work required.

TEXTURES AND FINISHES ACKNOWLEDGE THE HUMAN SCALE Finishes animate a space and really bring the school environment to life, embodying a sense of interactivity through the range and combinations of textures and colours. Textures have the ability to instil a sense of familiarity due to their dialogue with the human scale. Finishes, such as high reflectivity or gloss, can manifest a variety of emotions as well as evoking futuristic connotations.


Vistas INVITE THE FUTURE Integral to the experience of the built learning environment are vistas that it offers for the people who inhabit it. Vistas can act as a source of stimuli or provide relief, both being essential for enhancing the learning continuum within spaces. Either way, vistas encourage a sense of awareness in the students for their surroundings and the activities taking a place around, reinforcing the indirect learning as part of the continuum. Throughout the building, apertures, framed perforations through the active core and the enclosure offer a variety of views in terms of nature and size. The apertures that people can walk through offer an experience, but in passing by offer a glimpse of an active circulation with a social learning setting (breakout space) in the backdrop. Along the active core the framed perforations offer glimpses into the project spaces, and away from the active core. The entire envelope offers large glass panels i.e, very large windows and bifold doors which create a strong visual connection with the outside, the benefits of which have been discussed. The elasticity of vistas is vital in creating an experience within the built environment that is interesting, pertaining to the development of a culture of inquiry and curiosity for students to maintain a learning continuum.


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a continuous idea The Se The T Secondary eco c nd darry Scho School h ol off 2 2025 025 p project roject has as indeed as d rreaffirmed eaffirm med e the e imoff en encompassing design’s that we portance eo nc co ompas o ssi sing des esig es ign’s role iin n innovation on so th on hat a w e do d not just emb embrace mbrra mbra mb ace e evolution, vo olution llu u on n, bu b but ut inde indeed eed e inc incite citie it. The investigation stage of the project led to an appreciation of the current modes of learning valued by students through rigorously understanding their point of view of society, thus providing greater momentum with which to project into the future. The proposed learning model focuses on modes to enhance student growth and development, thus with placing equal emphasis on social and structured learning an adaptable Learning Continuum was able to emerge. The plasticity of the learning continuum is intriguing, a concept that instils a desire to live out and embrace opportunities of collaboration, and even a more interactive thus ‘hands-on’ approach to learning. The physical translation of the Learning Continuum developed as a ‘3D Textbook’ pertaining creative environments that offer the potential to grow academically, socially and within the self by being placed as one in a team that manifests into a whole. The learning space of the future is inspirational and ground breaking in terms of its physicality and embodied concepts, and this forward thinking should duly gain the respect of school students. A relationship based on give and take, the trust gifted through a student both consciously and implicitly, evokes greater respect and thus happiness within the schooling experience. The Implicit Curriculum is wise in its subtle presence as it appreciates the potential that architecture has in the creation of psychosocial spaces which can truly manifest as life changing environments.


REFERENCES 1. McCrindle, M. 2009 The ABC of XYZ, Understanding the global generations. ‘Educating and Engaging’. UNSW Press, UNSW Sydney. 2. Ibid. 3. Burnswoods, J and J. Fletcher. 1980. Sydney and the Bush: A Pictorial History of Education in New South Wales (NSW Department of Education), 147. 4. Quoted from Coppen, M. 2002. New Directions for Tomorrow’s Schools from Nair, P. 2002. But Are They Learning? School Buildings – The Important Unasked Questions, Can Learning Be Mass Produced? At The OECD International Seminar on Educational Infrastructure, Mexico. 5. Long, P and S. Ehrmann. 2005. Future of the Learning Space: Breaking out of the Box. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 40, no. 4 (July/ August 2005): 42–58. FutureoftheLearningSpaceBreaki/157992

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6. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria. Pedagogy and Space: Transforming Learning through Innovation. 2009. (accessed December, 2010), 6, 12. 7. Robinson, K. Feb 2006. Ken Robinson says that schools are killing creativity TEDTalks, Los Angeles ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html (accessed December 15, 2010). 8. Mitra, S. July 2010. The child driven education TedTalks Los Angeles (accessed December 15, 2010). 9. As quoted in Harris, S. “The Place of Virtual, Pedagogic and Physical Space in the 21st Century Classroom” (presented at EduLearn2010 and ICICTE 2010, August 2010), 4. 10. As Harris, S. “The Place of Virtual, Pedagogic and Physical Space in the 21st Century Classroom” (presented at EduLearn2010 and ICICTE 2010, August 2010), .




NBRS+PARTNERS established the ENVISION creative student partnerships as an exciting means to discover the sweeping possibilities of the Australian Secondary School of 2025. Extending the firm’s strong and valued culture of collaboration with their respect of many insights in the design process, our ENVISION team was immersed in this project undertaking extensive research. As a team we also sought expert advice and thus were able to project into the future in order to consolidate and ultimately create a life-changing environment for students. Being contemporaneous to both secondary and university education systems, we brought thorough and grounded understanding into the interactions of students in current education systems and an appreciation of their desires yet also challenges. This, combined with an early understanding of the processes that these social values undergo to manifest into a work of architecture, allowed us to work closely with our mentors Andrew Duffin, Vicki van Dijk and James Ward to distill the concept of the Learning Continuum. This concept, grounded in research and understanding, can be applied in a variety of manners to enhance the implicit learning experience. Our intent is not to be restrictive or definitive. Yet, as a conclusion to our learning experience and process, aptly backed by our research that so extensively suggests experiential learning by doing is the height of education processes, this document does equally present our concept design for the secondary school of the future.

Daina Labutis, Tiffany Liew and Stephanie Brancatisano ENVISION Student Team 2010-11.


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2025 The Learning Continuum  

2025 The Learning Continuum (2011) is an exploration of the future of spatial design solutions for schools. The publication was the culminat...

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