Artichoke Night School No. 11: Learning spaces

Designing learning spaces of the future was the theme of Artichoke Night School No. 11 held in Brisbane, in August 2013.

Michael Lavery, director at M3 Architecture, delivered the first talk of the evening at Artichoke Night School session eleven, describing his practice’s design approach as one concerned with traditional notions of placemaking. M3 Architecture’s Cherrell Hirst Creative Learning Centre at Brisbane Girls Grammar School was presented as evidence of this thinking. In this project an extensive creative learning program is arranged around a large, covered outdoor gathering space. The efforts to solve complex connections within the building and to other parts of the campus resulted in a system of stairways that encourage chance encounters and allow users to experience rooms and spaces from a new perspective – a surprising and delightful possibility.

Lavery’s presentation gave reassurance to the concern that a push exclusively toward e-learning may be detrimental to the design of future learning settings. Evidently it is possible to balance futuristic technological objectives with a modern, collegiate sensibility where landscape, outlook, light quality and useability remain paramount.

Sheona Thomson, an associate director (academic) of Learning and Teaching Transformation at Queensland University of Technology, discussed the recently completed Science and Engineering Centre at the university’s Gardens Point campus. This study focused on how the collaborative learning environments demanded a very particular effort to equip staff with new teaching methods. The Science and Engineering Centre challenges historical precedence, applying such strategies as removing wet labs and replacing them with open, collaborative learning spaces serviced by mobile experiment units. Circulation spaces are transformed too, into “eventful moments” creating informal settings to support group learning. The process of education transformation, according to Thomson, continues beyond project completion through the process of implementing changes to programming, curriculum and instruction.

Speakers from left: Michael Lavery, Bill Dowzer and Sheona Thomson.

Speakers from left: Michael Lavery, Bill Dowzer and Sheona Thomson.

Image: Jonathan Butler

Bill Dowzer, director at BVN Donovan Hill, proposed a series of questions as a way of reimagining learning spaces of the future, taking the audience on a global tour of schools, offices, banks and boats. He asked, “What if schools were more aligned with society?” The answer may be found in the commercial sector, in places like the recently completed ASB North Wharf (the new head office for ASB Bank in Auckland), designed by BVN Donovan Hill. In this building, a large central atrium accommodates vibrant, shared working spaces, empowering users to choose how they work and cooperate. The success of these collaborative spaces in promoting independent thinking suggests a framework that could be applied to the design of educational environments.

A further question posed was, “What if schools were to take a more entrepreneurial approach?” To answer this, Dowzer referred to institutions such as Gungahlin College in Canberra by Williams Boag Architects and Munns Sly Moore Architects. This school has adopted the unusual approach of making the library publicly accessible and in turn has created an important educational and communal space for the town centre. The school also shares its facilities with the Canberra Institute of Technology, proving that civic duty can align with educational and business obligations.

<!— /5912001/AAU_AU_MR_side_300x250 —> <div id=’div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-2-mob’> <script> googletag.cmd.push(function() { // googletag.pubads().refresh([gptRespAdSlots[0]]); googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1490926265173-2-mob’); }); </script> </div>

So, what if the school of the future doesn’t need any new buildings? This question was perhaps the most difficult for the audience to comprehend. The suggestion made was to transport educational environments into the places that people already populate: the office, the hotel and the shopping centre. This radical concept remains a true challenge for the consideration of those designing our future learning spaces.

The Artichoke Night School series is presented by Artichoke magazine in partnership with Space Furniture. Night School No. 11 was held at the Space Brisbane showroom.



Published online: 4 Mar 2014
Words: Michelle Bailey
Images: Jonathan Butler


Artichoke, December 2013

Related topics

More review

See all
2018 MPavilion by Barcelona-based architect Carme Pinós. A spectacle of pavilions

Ahead of a new set of pavilions set to open this summer, Rachel Hurst considers the burgeoning form. What is to be made of the …

At 500 Broadway, a mixed-use development in Santa Monica, California, an innovative prefabricated steel moment-frame facilitates the plasticity desired to strengthen the connection between home and street. Collaborator: Large Architecture (architect of record). Coming soon: Koning Eizenberg’s upcoming projects

Part of our ongoing review of the work of 2019 Gold Medallists Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg, we turn our attention to the architects’ future …

Distinctive solar chimneys in additions to
the John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica,California (2014) provide assisted passive cooling and offer students an
empirical lesson in differential air pressure.
Collaborator: Osborne Architects (executive
architect). Excelsior Koning Eizenberg Architecture!

Peers and colleagues of 2019 Gold Medallists Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg reflect on their formidable combination, a take-no-prisoners approach to their architectural ambition, and …

The Belmar Apartments in Santa Monica, California (2014) contributes 160 units of affordable housing to the Ocean Avenue South Development on one side of a public walk. Collaborators: Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners (masterplan partner), KTGY Architecture and Planning (architect of record). 'Smart, generous and empathetic': The housing projects of Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Architecture Australia reflects on Koning Eizenberg Architecture’s pragmatic yet ambitious housing projects.