Spaces for education: new issues

19 septiembre 2021

On a global level, the world of education has consolidated its “mixed teaching” formulas and has experimented with new approaches that can expand the “space” of learning. Nevertheless, it seems to be still too soon to tell if this has led to a permanent change in practices, or new types of physical situations. Wondering whether we should learn and teach “in person or at a distance” might not be the right question to be asking. We talked it over with three international educators – Carly Cannell of The New School-Parsons, New York City; Sevra Davis of the British Council UK; Paolo Tumminelli of the Köln International School of Design – and one designer of spaces for education – Philip Iosca, EF Architecture & Design Studio – to find out what has changed most in their recent experience.

I Paolo Tumminelli,
Professor, Köln International
School of Design

We still don’t know what the post-pandemic behaviors will be. Will we run away from other people, or embrace them? Only when that time comes will there be change in the design of spaces, if necessary. We needn’t go back to the Peripatetic philosophers to remind ourselves that the sharing of space is a fundamental part of human and intellectual interchange. With the invention of the famous stool, the Ulm School attempted to get beyond the principle of the pulpit. The recent mixed learning formula has made us discover the existence of an effective online space. Isolated in our little Zoom squares, we build a magical hall with very amusing characteristics: hierarchies become fluid, spatial relationships constantly change, the “screenspaces” are identical for everyone, but at the same time they are different for each. An interesting collateral effect is the empowerment of personality thanks to the infinite background options. From kitchen cabinets to virtual beaches, anything goes.


IICarly Cannell,
Assistant Professor,
The New School-Parsons, New York City

The spaces themselves are not changing significantly, but human behaviors and practices are. The focus may prioritize improvements to systems, such as air quality and ventilation. There idea is to concentrate classroom learning time in consolidated periods, rather than dispersing meeting times over multiple days; or we can have a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Spaces for learning are no longer limited to physical classrooms. Digital space is not unlike physical space, in that the tools must be engaging. To foster knowledge sharing, regardless of type of space, we look to clearly communicate the process, to encourage multiple opportunities for sharing and be adaptable to multiple users. As many of us return to the classroom for in-person teaching, we try not to look at it so much as live/not live, but as a choreography of multiple types of engagements with distinct learning moments that result in meaningful experiences and specific outcomes. In some ways, this pandemic situation has pushed educators to be more open, innovative and extend the “space" of learning.


IIISevra Davis, Director of Architecture,
Design and Fashion | British Council UK

The most notable changes are how our physical environments have had to adapt to become more flexible and to accommodate different uses, and how digital environments have become more like physical environments. Our laptops, phones or other devices have become the “meeting room.” The pandemic has meant that our sense of what defines a particular environment for a particular purpose has changed. It has also made us more acutely aware of sensory overload, particularly in terms of screen time. I hope that as we return to physical spaces, we will be more sensitive to people’s learning and communication needs. We need to find new ways to deliver our work, new opportunities for connection and learning. For example, thinking about how to convey material substance and tangibility, in a moment in which we cannot “feel” things together. One of the results has been our Material Atlas, a digital learning space that explores materials, including their physical, social and practical history. Or we can adopt a model of “mixed” communication, as in the Housewarming program of virtual residencies of the British Council, which has allowed designers to proactively collaborate with local communities of makers, involving multiple persons and ideas in the process, in spite of the impossibility of travel.


IV Philip Iosca, Head of Interior Design,
EF Architecture & Design Studio, North America

Flexibility has always been a key component for the design of our spaces for learning. Investing in loose furniture rather than built-ins is not just more budget friendly, but also means our spaces can change capacities, program, or brief with relative ease. However, we can also see the obvious limitations of spaces that are completely open-plan. Projects must include individual privacy for meeting and studying, but also remote working and learning. The challenge is to make these spaces into a warm, welcoming part of the overall design. Besides space planning, there are several indispensable principles: access to nature, light and/or natural materials; a comfortable layout; smart (and varied) lighting; and good acoustics. It is possible to take further steps: to incorporate a sense of place through the use of colors and materials, and the inclusion of locally designed or produced items. Because knowledge is not only what is shared in the space, but also what comes from the space itself.

en Contacto!
Te ofrecemos información sobre productos,
eventos, historias y otras novedades.

Déjate inspirar por la nueva app de Arper

Descarga la app de Arper en tu tablet y empieza a descubrir nuestro mundo de forma completamente nueva!