Hacking the classroom: Using prototyping to (re)imagine new learning environments


Richard Leonard
Director, Architect

Lisa Horton
Associate, Interior Design

LU: 1.5

Learning Units

How applies to HSW:

Building Design Interior Design Preservation, renovation, restoration and adaptive reuse


Globally, schools across all sectors are transitioning towards contemporary teaching and learning practices and as such, constructing new environments to support these pedagogies. The shared challenge we face as designers is to reimagine these environments from the traditional, familiar classroom to highly connected and diverse learning landscapes supporting a range of activities. For educators, this reimagining of the physical environment sits alongside a reimagining of professional practice and classroom dynamics, a significant change for both educators as individuals and leaders inspiring change within their school communities. There is no doubt that traditional design processes and methodologies need to evolve to enable the navigation of such complex changes. The session addresses the important questions:

  • • What are the new models supporting contemporary education?
  • • How can designers, educators and students work together to define their new models?
  • • How do you initiate change and how do you progress sustainable models?

This workshop will look at prototyping as a technique for creating sustainable change in both the design of learning environments and the teaching practices they support through the presentation of case studies and some interactive, hands-on collaboration. Applying a global perspective, this participatory workshop will mix theory, experience and practice to provide delegates with an overview of several innovative school exemplars including the 2017 MacConnell Award Winning Learning Project at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. Unpacking lessons learnt from all project stages, from briefing through to occupancy, the workshop will cover the successes, failures and impact from a decade of radical, real-world case studies. Alongside this, prototyping as a process will be further examined, with the opportunity for delegates to engage with prototyping methodologies and techniques to develop ways of reimagining collaborative learning environment design for sustainable change in schools.

Learning Objectives:
  • Develop a greater understanding of the interaction between education pedagogy and space, and the techniques to define that interaction.
  • Analyse recent outcomes from formal academic research on contemporary education facilities.
  • Study real-world examples where collaboration has led to award-winning and sustainable solutions, applying an international perspective.
  • Learn new methodologies to facilitate collaboration between designers, educators and students that you can apply to your specific context.
Primary Competency:

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Primary Domain:

Toolbox: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the approaches, methods and applications when transitioning from design and concept into reality, actual existence through quality performance, execution and/or product.

Secondary Domain:

Process: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.

Additional information: Although focussing on exemplars from Australia, the relevance and “lessons learned” are directly translatable to both the American and International context.