chapter  1
Learning spaces from an architectural perspective
Pages 22

There are now a considerable number of building designs aimed at creating innovative types of informal, non-hierarchical, fl exible and technology-rich spaces for learning in post-compulsory education, both in the UK and globally. Rather than merely list good examples, which can be easily found elsewhere (JISC 2006; Scottish Funding Council 2006; Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) 2006; Australian Teaching and Learning Council (ATLC) 2007; Oblinger 2006), this chapter aims instead to critically explore some of the underlying conceptual frameworks and assumptions behind these recent architectural projects. In fact, I suggest that a set of new design ‘types’ is already coming into such common usage as to potentially be the new norm. This raises several questions that are not yet being asked. How do such innovative learning spaces connect ideas about physical space to intended effects on learning? What new typologies are being offered as more appropriate environments for post-compulsory education? Are these new kinds of environments enhancing learning as predicted? Does this recent addition of new types of learning space provide for the full range of learning in post-compulsory education, or are there important gaps and alternatives which are not being considered? And how do these new building designs relate to shifts in contemporary architecture more generally, especially to its most recent theories about, and approaches to, the design of space and its occupation? Ultimately I will argue that in order to answer these questions we need to unravel what matters about space when it comes to learning; that is, to develop a better understanding of how space ‘works’.