It’s one of our six core values.  At the end of May, Werner Naude, Nick Chibnall-West and Nandia Lines made the trip over to Perth for the annual Learning Environments Australasia conference.  This annual conference exposes us to some of the world’s leading educationalists, architects and researchers. The panel of world-leading speakers enriched us with their current views, research and the growing understanding of how, why and where we learn best.

The conference did not disappoint with polarising views about the physical environment. Paul Collard (Creativity, Culture & Education UK) confirmed through his research, that the most critical base performance criteria for any learning environment is what learners respond to first, their senses (sight, sound, touch, smell).  A learning environment can be meaningful if it responds to acoustics, light, surfaces, and ventilation successfully.

In stark contrast, an alternative view was presented by Professor John Hattie, with his presentation ‘Space does not matter’ drawn from his research through the Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN). John presented a view that space did not matter if it was not used well. A well-designed space used in an ineffective way is useless.

From these two key speakers we reflect upon the following critical point: to design successful learning environments, it is essential that we work to engage, collaborate and partner with our schools and educationalists to interpret and implement a successful union of pedagogy and space.  At DCA, we are visionary with our research and knowledge but grounded enough to know we will always be on a continuum of learning.