At CCO Architects, we work with learning environments ranging from daycare centers to primary schools, vocational schools, universities, and advanced research buildings. We are passionate about learning environments because educational buildings house future members of society and serve as the breeding ground for the development of knowledge needed in the future.
Learning environments shape future members of society
We share responsibility to ensure that future citizens feel challenged and included in their physical surroundings. They should be able to take care of themselves and others and navigate a world that demands adaptability, readiness to learn, and initiative. Therefore, users in our buildings should be encouraged to ask questions and wonder about their reality, a principle we support through architecture. Like the users in our buildings, we ask questions to find the best solutions in each project because each learning environment is unique.
Our educational buildings are integrated into social contexts that extend beyond the educational institution’s pedagogical function. Typically, our educational buildings contribute quality and community to an entire local area, becoming focal points both during and outside school hours.
We work methodically and playfully to create experiential physical spaces with the best solutions for users and surroundings. Users and clients are always involved in our development processes because they are experts in their daily lives and organizations, knowing what they need.
Five Framing Concepts for Learning Environments
As part of our approach to educational architecture, we work with five essential concepts that describe good learning environments.
These concepts serve as guidelines for the behavior our learning environments should strengthen. We work towards supporting users in acquiring these qualities through sensory qualities in our architecture, creating connections between physical spaces and human actions and culture.
Robust Learning Environments
Learning architecture should withstand use. A robust framework creates a secure and stable environment for learning. We see learning environments as workshops where there should be room to unfold and test creative skills without being limited by unsustainable solutions. Our buildings and learning environments function now and endure far into the future. They depend on people’s use of them, so we create adaptable environments capable of accommodating new users, habits, and functions. It’s about finding a balance between the generic and the specific, thinking smart and simple, and not making things overly complex.
Open Learning Environments
Learning begins with cognitive processes that form new connections in the brain. Seeing an activity creates the first neurological connections, the basis for translating new knowledge into action. We believe that visibility between functions creates synergy, so we design learning environments without dead ends, unused corridors, or paths leading only to locked doors. A thoughtful, open arrangement of spaces allows for spontaneous meetings and discoveries, fostering inspiration and knowledge sharing.
Curiosity Stimulates Learning
Exploring the learning environment stimulates learning, creativity, and empathy. We believe that transparency and insight in learning environments foster curiosity among users. Therefore, we work with organization and programming that piques users’ curiosity. Learning happens best when students have the opportunity to hear, touch, and use their senses. Hence, we work with learning architecture that enables learning with both the head and hands. In workshop-like spaces, we create the foundation for users to let curiosity inspire experiments on a large and small scale.
Spacious Frameworks for Learning
Spatial variation creates experiential buildings and learning environments. Diversity, inclusivity, and democracy are the core of future learning environments. A diverse community inspires learning and innovation, supporting well-being and security for all. Physical spaces should be inclusive and offer a multitude of possibilities for the learning individual to unfold. Therefore, we work in our architecture with a focus on spatial variation—from large, active gathering spaces to small, quiet spaces for reflection. Spatial variation creates experiential buildings and learning environments with high architectural quality.
In our architecture, we work with universal design through various architectural tools. These tools focus on creating clarity, accessibility, and equality for all building users. Learning environments should be a physical framework that supports users in becoming adaptable citizens who can collectively adjust to societal changes.
Honesty is Central
We know that good architecture is experienced and remembered with all the senses. Therefore, our learning environments should appeal to the senses and intuition, engaging them. Honest architecture cuts the idea down to the core, creating a clear, consistent framework. In our view, this best stages the essential elements of light, sound, and air, which stimulate our senses.
In our buildings, all elements and materials have a function and are integrated into an overall design approach that enhances understanding of the building’s construction. We work with strong material hierarchies that minimize the need for wayfinding and signage.
Buildings and learning environments should be understood and interpreted immediately and intuitively. We believe that when users can see how a building is constructed, what it is built of, and how it functions in daily life, they become better at using and learning from and within the building.
More Knowledge about Learning Environments
In addition to working with learning environments through our architectural projects, we also offer redesign and rethinking of learning spaces that support pedagogical principles in everything from daycare centers to primary schools, vocational schools, universities, and advanced research buildings. We call this concept “Space Guidance.”