Space for Learning

Outside lunch space at the Gardens Pavilion, Horniman Museum and Gardens, London. Photo Caroline Purday

Locations & dimensions

The ideal learning space is not tucked away in a remote basement, but is at the heart of your site – and is allocated as much room as possible to enable a wide variety of activities.

Learning spaces are best located close to an entrance, with easy access to toilets. Offices located next to or near your learning space will save you time when operating the rooms, and allow passive observation as required. Rooms should have access to natural daylight; rarely are spaces below ground inspiring. They should be clearly visible, both to engage all visitors and to send a clear message about how learning is valued in an organisation.

Experience tells us that in the majority of institutions, space is at a premium and compromises have to be made. In new-build situations a learning suite/zone may be possible, where several generously sized rooms can have different functions. 

We recommend an area of at least 98m2 per learning space. When properly fitted out, a 98m2 space will reduce down to 85m2. This is adequate but not generous.

An 85m2 learning space will allow a class of 30 primary age children with three helpers to be involved in creative artwork or other style of learning on small-sized paper, sitting very closely but with little perambulatory space. The same dimensions are suitable for 15 adolescents, or adults working more expansively in a workshop. 

These dimensions do not include coat and bag storage, but do include sufficient storage for a full range of creative activity.

In historic properties where the layout may not be changed or walls removed, there is often little choice about the size. This is where a clever design for fit-out is crucial.

In new-builds, a covered or uncovered ‘learning terrace’ is very often possible to increase the space potential by allowing for learning to spill outside in fine weather.