Learning Environments Conference 2015 – Inclusive Design

This is a record of the conference held at Regents Park University in London on 2nd July 2015, organised by Merlin Events.


1. Steve Maslin, director of building user design. Schumacher institute.
‘Designing for mind and body.’ (Dyslexic)

Are our learning environment starting points disabling or enabling?
Silos….diversity presents opportunities where silos don’t overlap.
‘Needs envelope’

Needs. Neurological, visual, hearing, mobility, metabolism.

Design. Logistics, legibility, clarity, psychology, ergonomics.

Focus, for good work focus on the mind.
Way finding, branded routes idea.

Neurological needs:who?
Our needs change through age. (No?!!)

Congenital differences, Aspergers, dyslexia, autism, learning Difficulties, cerebral palsy,
People with latterly acquired experiences…

4% of the British population have severe dyslexia , 10% have moderate level of dyslexia.
25% of people will experience mental health problem in a year.

Sensory integration significance, Dr Jean Ayres 1971.
signal>register>modulate>integrate>adaptive response

Five senses plus balance (vestibular) and positioning (proprioception)

Thresholds and reactions,
High, Seeker.   (Active)   Bystander.   (Passive)
Low. Sensor.   (Active).   Avoider.  (Passive)

Space bubble, proxemics.
Individually controlled environments. Nesting analogy

Circadian rhythms, we also have neurological variations on how we see colour.

Visual mapping, most of us support memory with this,

Design for operability, service design.

Problems on campus, campus level, Brideghead, his and good logistics to satellites,

Are we in danger of creating socially and economically dysfunctional environments?

2. Learning differences, learning styles and work styles or what I learned about workplace strategy from my daughter. (Dyslexia and ADHD)
Arnold Levin. SmithGroup JJR.

Understanding Learning styles are a powerful tool when helping with kids with learning differences.
Learning styles can lead after education later in life to work styles but this isn’t usually taken into consideration by architects.
Processing issues, verbal, writing, processing information and disseminate Information
In the States, 1-5 people have learning differences.
These can include attributes of innovation,  I.e. Einstein, Spielberg, entrepreneurs.
LD ……Inclusiveness, other differences are accepted but not learning.
diversity performance.

Eg. The lab school of Washington, designed on kids learning differences, ‘portfolio’ of spaces,
Management styles in the world of work are becoming less hierarchical, more collaborative, social interaction, interface with technology, much less differences between learning spaces and workspaces

Workplace, choice for where to work as we are all different and can’t all be activity based.

3. Designing lecture spaces to accommodate divergent learning styles and teaching methods.
Caroline Pepper and Nicholas Burwell, architect.

Check on Loughborough principles,
To encourage students to learn by conversation , enquiry based learning,

Nick. What skills are we trying to develop?
Transferable skills, the T shaped person,
Interesting ideas are coming from those with transferable skills, information, learning spaces that offer didactic and collaborative opportunities,
‘Contemporary’ lecture theatre, to gather information on models of performance, different styles of information delivery, power of metaphor to unlock creativity (Giants Causeway)  to describe intent, create informal arrangements from regular fixed patterns.
Race Furniture, ‘Connect’ seating.
Achieved 1.2 m sq per person. Whereas most didactic lecture theatres are 0.9 to 1.1msq. Then they need a breakout space at 1.5m sq per person.

Caroline, £201 per sq m cost at Loughborough.
Timetable issues , created for design school but they’ve outgrown their cohort size, so they can’t use it.
Loughborough struggles to find alternative spaces for alternative teaching styles and centre for academic practice staff development. Slowly changing perceptions.
Marketing the space differently, sharing knowledge with other institutions,
Evaluation, teaching observations and focus groups with students, “had a positive work feel”
The lecture theatre has increased expectations among academics who want to use it again, increased negative impact on other typical Lecture Theatres.

Space constraints on occupancy, need to protect the more collaborative spaces against value engineering.

Belfast , developed teaching wall idea for mixed media.
Synergy with informal learning spaces.
Hermit crab analogy.
Working with Liz Britten at Leeds to integrate technology. Tethered tablet with matrix to lecturer.

4. The new faculty of business and law building at UWE.
Marianne Reed and Matt Tarling, from Stride Treglown.
Strategy 20202. Recognises competitive market, seen the need to invest in facilities.
Create inspiring and engaging spaces.
Master plan, Heartzone, focus attention with student union and in particular the faculty of business and law. Overarching vision, to create a first class learning environment,
Space for collaboration, business deco,went, infernal learning, specialist executive development facilities.
Coached rather than taught.

Space standards, to goes more space, more share space, space for academics to walk around the rooms, space modelling based on numbers over next ten years.
Key stakeholder engagement, working with internal comms team.
Student Partnerships Services.

Safe quite spaces away from busy spaces. Prayer rooms, breastfeeding, Gender mutual toilets.

Learning And Teaching Enhancement Group.
Teaching Spaces Group, academic champions, IT, procurement.
Consider curriculum, teaching styles, time tabling, future of technology enhanced learning environments.
Consider furniture, power and data, student reps ,

Moving to larger academic offices for staff, 2-4 cohort, flexibility for growing and opening up offices with partitions.
Shadowing, classroom observations, blog for dissemination, with feedback, well used.

3d plans, using BIM, to engage more widely with stake holders, once space is for team entrepreneur spaces. Visuals help there are no surprises.
Offices mixed in with teaching spaces, to encourage collaboration.
Uni want staff to stay on campus by creating collaborative space, with variety of informal spaces,
Flexible multi use spaces, future proofing.
But cannot be faceless.
Landscaping, with clear routes, desire lines, visibility, levels, accessibility, paths of least resistance.
Passive solutions where possible, daylight and windows, acoustic separation, audibly, visual comfort and light levels,

Revitzo model on iPad to help with stakeholder engagement, for those who can’t read flat floor plans, helps with understanding where different elements exist, such as services.

5. Academics are from Venus and Administrators are from Mars.
Tim Oldman and Peggie Rothe, Leesman.
Check out their web site for the survey, open source. Test of functional suitability.

Students are customers, all universities offering ed outcomes, research recognition and league tables.
103,000 responses on workplace survey.
World green building documents.

More space to cope with numbers of increased staff and students? Or different space?
Does open plan work?
People in open plan perceive there is less support for activities
But most people support need for open plan offices

6.  Shane Cryer, Saint Gobain Ecophon.
Optimised classroom acoustics for all.
Daylight, encourage outdoor learning
Air quality
Etc. etc.
acoustics, ideal for acoustics, no reverb etc.
80db threshold for ear protectors
Talking in a lecture theatre, 62db voice falls away at 8m, which is why we need microphones.
Echo filter within our ears, lasts about 90 mins. Then headaches or blood pressure rise. Poor acoustics. Students can’t remember numerical information, Lower attainment.
Back wall baffles helps lower sound pressure level.
Refer to amendment Building Regulations RIBA, requirement E4 from part E, schedule 1.
The Essex Study, Swain Park School, methodology for measuring acoustic at a school.
Target is Below 0.4 reverb for SEN with TMF parameters. BB93.
Poor reverb makes a huge difference for hearing impaired and learning difficulties.
Attainment increased due to acoustic DEN standard, everybody benefits.
Offer to hold case study visits.
Lots of evidence to show acoustic treatment is important and effective.

7. Accessibility in Historic Buildings
Jude Harris, Jestico and Whites


8. From Kent to Kazakhstan: Responding to the complexities of global learning models.
Maria Nesdale, Gensler architects, multidisciplinary company.
Role of Global leader in education. Inclusivity equals personalisation.
What is work?
What are we teaching?
Oxford uni research reckons 47% of jobs are at risk of extinction by 2035. (Really?!!)
Chris Gerry, skills lab. “Non cognitive skills drive academic success, but at the moment school system pay zero attention to this ”
Learning is life long and life wide….
Learning is no longer a linear process
84% of millennials would rather have ten jobs that last 2 years than one that lasts 20 years.
The Dymanics of place in higher education, written by Gensler.
“19% of students find lecture theatres effective” !!! Changing courses on Gensler website.
Designing for personalisation, co-learning spaces, maker spaces, cafes, conference rooms, lab spaces, mentors, concierge services, to service these new spaces.

References, New Line Learning in Maidstone.
Playmaker school, Santa Monica, learning through doing, carried out through a series of suites,
DTU, Hacked Auditoria in Copenhagen. Needed less lecture halls and more smaller spaces as they don’t have enough variety of spaces.
UEL, knowledge Dock, academic incubator. Work and learning environment mergers or collaboration with concierge style support.