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Expansive Learning

Improved indoor air quality in schools results in an average asthma reduction of 38.5%.
– Carnegie Mellon University Center for Building Performance.

As schools look to the future, there is an accelerated shift to placing the student at the center of opportunities for collaboration, individualized instruction and self-directed discovery. This shift focuses on motivating students by enriching their overall learning experience. Whether focusing on STEAM, GRIT, foresight education, project-based learning or blended learning, traditional instruction is expanding to meet the demands of 21st century global students. This requires a broadened definition of “school” with varied interconnected learning spaces, integrated technology and a global outward focus.

The traditional classroom bounded by four walls and oriented towards the teacher is based on a linear theory of education transmitting fixed knowledge with efficiency and precision. The range of activities that students now engage in is ever-expanding and requires flexible and varied learning spaces which incorporate specialized studios, connected breakout areas, communal spaces and the outdoors. To support this expansive learning, every available space beyond the classroom, be it a hallway, entry, cafeteria, gymnasium or outdoor space, should be conceived as an opportunity to promote student integration and engagement. By rethinking the architecture of schools to be flexible and adaptable and incorporating a variety of spaces with a range of performance characteristics, the physical space of the school can support and inspire expansive learning.

Green schools report a 15% reduction in absenteeism.
– “Washington High Performance School Buildings: Report to Legislature” Paladino & Company

Providing an expansive learning environment does not necessarily require more space or more infrastructure but does require rethinking how space is allocated, organized and designed. As architects, we work with schools to translate specific pedagogical approaches into smartly designed buildings that respond to specific academic priorities and the school culture.

At MBB Architects, our passion lies in designing educational environments that foster academic mastery motivated by individual passion and delight. This results in schools that engender collaboration, self-initiation, experimentation and risk-taking and in supportive learning environments that are light-filled, inspiring and unexpected. In actively shaping the architecture of learning environments, we seek to empower students to be active learners, engaged community members and self-aware global citizens.