A glimpse into the school of the future

It’s no secret that schools and universities of the future are going to look very different to how they do today.

As new technologies continue to transform the way students learn and engage with each other, learning spaces must continue to evolve and be designed to cater for new innovative styles of learning.

The UTS Ku-ring-gai site is undergoing an innovative transformation to become a new school which will cater for ‘stage not age’ learning.

The UTS building in Lindfield, which won the prestigious Sulman medal for architecture in 1978, will be redesigned to include a P-12 school which may eventually include university-level subjects.

With potential to cater for up to 2000 students, the new model is being designed by BVN Architecture, along with the NSW Department of Education and with the help of world leader in learning, British academic Professor Stephen Heppell.

Ahead of New Generation Learning Space Design 2015, Fiona Young, Architect at BVN Architecture, explores the elements that make the Lindfield school a unique learning environment, the process behind establishing a ‘stage not age’ learning model and how the space has been designed to foster innovation and cater for a new approach to learning.

Developing and choosing a new educational model

The Lindfield project has been unique in its approach, involving the public in the development and decision-making process for the new educational model. BVN and the Department undertook a series of community consultation workshops with Heppell, to allow the community to participate in and provide feedback on the project.

With the first stage of public consultations now closed, Fiona Young says that it was the collaboration with the public and the internal project team which has helped foster innovation and create a new approach to learning.

“This is the most collaborative project I’ve ever been part of. It is largely due to the way that the public consultation strategy was focused, and the visionary nature of the public workshops facilitated by Stephen Heppell. These workshops allowed him to share his research on innovative schools from around the world which opened the community’s mind to new possibilities,” she says.

The other unique element of the engagement process was the technologies used to involve the public in the process.

“We used a virtual consultation tool which was an incredible way to engage the community in a genuine, two-way process. We also used social media to engage the community as well,” says Young.

The consultation site was used to ask the public questions about their aspirations and visions for the site and for schooling, and learning into the future. During the consultation process three educational models were developed and shared on the project’s official website for the public to comment and vote on.

Young says this was a unique way to involve the community in the design process and has helped them to design a school which caters for the needs of the community.

“The community was a part of designing this model. They were given three options and people voted on which model they liked or didn’t like, the majority of feedback was that people liked elements of all three models. So the final model could easily have been a hybrid of the three and that’s the direction we’ve taken,” she says.

Download the full article Learning better and teaching smarter to read more about how the Lindfield Learning project team paved the way for ‘stage not age learning’ and how the space has been designed to match this new style of learning.

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