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Explained: Learning Landscapes

Author Creative Director Francesco Messori
“The culture of education is in full development, constant experimentation and new visions are trying to bring forward new models to support and empower the future generations to answer to the new demands which our society is bringing forward. We are assisting to break through the traditional models of modernity, based on individuals achieving and retaining equal quantity of notions, to a collaborative and disruptive learning method based on critical thinking, diversification, multidisciplinary experimentation, where the soft qualities and unicity of an individual are the key.

A lot of new bright examples of schools are appearing in Europe and especially in the Netherlands, but while the educational models are extremely advanced, the physical environment where they have to work doesn’t match the expectation. Also if newly built, the school is an obstacle to develop new ideas and brings frustration because it is extremely difficult to change a building after you are in it.

We have experienced that often schools are designed more for the sake of a good façade and iconic look than with the aim to help educators to fulfill their dreams. Most of the money budget is applied to the building as a container and not for the educational environment that must fit in it.

If we think of our own homes, we can easily recognize that it is the quality of the interior of our house that make us comfortable in it: the colors, the furnishings, their disposition in the space, the accessories and the soft qualities like sound, light etc, but if we see schoolbuildings, this is often missing, we see chaotic spaces, over boosted of stimuli, disturbing light, monofunctional use, cold and hard surfaces, etc.

Why is that?
How can we build schools which fulfill the expectations of the educators?
Schools which can be enough flexible to adapt to the development of their methods?
Schools which are healthy and engaging places for our children and their teachers and families?

How can we bridge the miscommunication between schools and architects?
We think that as D/DOCK we have found the missing link.

Learning Landscapes by D/DOCK is a new design method, based on the educational model and not on the functional distribution.
The lay out of the school is made from inside to outside and places the people at the center of the process. For this reason every space-design is based on the positive psychological effects that being in that space can give us. In this way a good design will boost engagement, energy, health and comfort. D/DOCK brings its experience in design of work environments to the educational world, and has developed several tools to design a tailor made environment for the specific educational needs of our clients. I believe that the interior design quality is the key, furniture, learning typologies, colors materials can connect the people to their environment, give them comfort and engage them to their tasks. Hybridization and flexibility are a fundamental element for the design of a school, because they bring freedom to change, to add, to invent and experiment; a school as a building must boost and trigger these possibilities.

Our focus group ‘Learning Landscapes’ has developed a toolkit which allows teachers, students and schoolboards to design their own school following their specific needs and which can translate their vision in a real schoolbuilding.

We are launching workshops with schools, education experts, students on our Learning Landscapes Method to experience together the potential of this idea, envisioning new schools lay outs and keep experimenting for new scenarios.”

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