What to consider when designing adaptable spaces

24 January 2017

 Arts West Learning Space  

At Architectus we’ve worked with a broad spectrum of Schools, Universities and TAFEs to design spaces that support the learning of their students. Recent projects have propelled us to the forefront of educational design and we’ve compiled a list of our top five things to consider when you’re looking to explore adaptable learning spaces. Good luck!

Learning environments spacial lab


1. Know what you want.

What are the range of student behaviours that will support your teaching methodology? What do you want the space to do perfectly? What do you want it to do well? And what do you just want it to do? Rather than ultimate flexibility we encourage purposeful adaptability, that supports the teaching methodology. At Architectus we say a space can do one thing perfectly, a second thing well and a third thing decently. 

2. How often will your space change?

What’s your rate of change - every class, every day, every semester or long term future flexibility? This can have implications for adaptability of furniture; weight, castors or none, plugged in or not? Do you want students to be able to reconfigure to any arrangement? 

3. Think about power and data. 

Cables slow everything down. How are your students getting power? How do they digitally display their work and how do they work digitally together? 

4. Who’s doing the adapting? 

If you need to train someone to adapt the space, it probably won't happen. Data shows that if training is required, utilisation is drastically reduced. We use low tech and high tech - as long as it's easy! 

5. Give them clues! 

Show don't tell. You should be able to walk in and immediately start to visualise how the space ‘works’, and imagine all the things you could do in there! Provide symbols of adaptability and prompts for movement.

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