Flexibility

The Clore Learning Centre set up for an early years activity at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich © ORNC
The Clore Learning Centre set up for an early years activity at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich © ORNC

Colleagues who have developed spaces tell us flexibility is the single most important attribute. The ideal learning space is a fully adaptable, flexible space, fit for multi-purpose, multi-age use.

Multi-functionality is key for mixed-age participants. In the past, learning or education has meant for many, school rooms or classrooms. School visits may be the bread-and-butter education audience for many sites, but schoolchildren do not need classrooms, they have them already in school. Pupils respond to inspiring spaces.Most institutions offer family programmes where the learning space is also used by very young children and their parents.

Learning spaces need to be attractive to adolescents, individual adults and community groups. Increasingly, they need to accommodate programmes that enhance the lives of a growing elderly population. The learning space needs be sophisticated enough to attract all ages, without an adult feeling that they have come to a child’s classroom for their course, event demonstration or workshop.

Successful learning spaces do not replicate seminar rooms, ICT labs or an exhibition extension area. Similarly, learning spaces in pristine contemporary form resembling an unlived-in kitchen showroom are not conducive to creative learning. Multi-purpose learning spaces are not carpeted. Learning spaces are not lunchrooms or coat and bag cloakrooms.

The ideal learning space is a fully adaptable, flexible space, fit for multi-purpose, multi-age use. A good learning space should work for all.