Developing Curriculum-Led Human-Centred Spatial Design Briefs for Next Generation Learning Environments in Higher Education

By Susan Sherringham and Sue Serle.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There have been major shifts in learning goals, curricula and pedagogy over the past century, particularly the last thirty years. In the last decade the area of learning space design has emerged as a key research focus, policy priority and strategic direction in both schools and the higher education sector.

In response to these major shifts, innovative spatial approaches to learning have given rise to ‘next generation’ learning environments. These environments address a multiplicit and fluid set of parameters and considerations. The rate of change in the sector and in technology, shifts in pedagogy and conceptions of learning, and the needs and expectations of new generations of students all give rise to a far more complex process than the design of traditional learning spaces. In the conception of these next generation learning environments the relationships between the users, curriculum, pedagogy, technology and spatial environments are recognized as fluid and evolving and influenced by a diverse array of stakeholders both within and beyond the campus. Intrinsic to these relationships are strategic directives, objectives and transformative processes acting on macro and micro levels. It is this complexity and interrelatedness that signals the need for universities to not only rethink the typology of environments for learning but also the process for conceiving, briefing and creating them.

It is this need, and the paucity of research in this area, that defines the focus of this paper and an Australian Learning and Teaching Council funded research project from which this paper stems. The project is mapping a protocol for the development of curriculum-led human-centred spatial design briefs for next generation learning environments. This paper presents the designerly approach to the research project, the methods for investigation, brief development and the ‘tools’ being developed and tested.

Keywords: Visual Action Research Methods, Curriculum-Led, Transformative Processes, Participatory design and play, Learning Environments, Photo elicitation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.125-136. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.585MB).

Susan Sherringham

Senior Lecturer, Course Director of Interior Design, Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Susan Sherringham ( BA ( Hons)), is Course Director of Interior Design in the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is Chair of the Teaching and Learning Spaces Improvement Working Party at UTS. Susan has over 20 years of industry experience as a designer, as a Director of a multidisciplinary design practice and in her own multidisciplinary design practice, primarily designing for the commercial sector including research and development projects. Her current post graduate research focuses on adaptive expertise, systems thinking, organisational learning and life-long learning in the design industry; an aspect of which is conceptualising the workplace as a learning environment. Susan is Project Leader on an Australian Learning and teaching Council Priority Project - A protocol for developing curriculum-led human-centred learning environments in higher education. Susan is also a Director and Treasurer of the Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association.

Sue Serle

Lecturer, Interior Architecture Program, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sue Serle, Bachelor of Arts (Interior Design)RMIT, Masters Design & Planning University of Melbourne, is a lecturer in interior architecture in the Faculty of the Built Environment at The University of New South Wales. Susan is an Accredited Member of the Design Institute of Australia and has over 20 years of industry experience as a designer. Her research interests focus on visual languages, interdisciplinary and workplace design in office, health, and education particularly new learning environments. Teaching is a major part of her work and contributing to an environmentally sustainable future is a key goal.


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