Physical Design of Premises to Support Learning

November 10, 2015 by Polona Sirnik


Learning being in the center of our work, we are constantly thinking of ways of how to improve it. We have therefore started paying attention also to the question of how the physical design of the environment can support learning. Our colleague Urška Zrinski pointed out the importance of physical design of learning environments in one of her recent blog posts. As a learning institution that promotes participatory approach to learning we wanted also our facilities to support this approach.

We have teamed up with Jure Kotnik Architecture to help us translate our understanding of learning into a physical design of the CEF lobby. The lobby is a key meeting place in our learning institution and a place where learning happens in addition to the classrooms. We wanted a lobby where our training participants would feel relaxed, motivated to learn, and stimulated to think differently, “out of the box.” Public financial management and central banking that people learn about at our workshops are demanding, which is why we need an approach to facilitate learning, change the perspective and present the topics as challenging and fun.

The architect chose a set of innovative elements, such as a winning podium, office traffic signs, new names of classrooms and arrangement of a pillar as an inspiration area that would act as conversation triggers and initiate informal contacts among people, while also relieving their minds and taking their brain into another realm of thinking. A relaxed and informal learning environment stimulates the brain to memorize more information and better connect the different pieces of the puzzle. To this end, the architect implemented “traffic signs”, marking for example the relax area, three deep breathe zones, etc.

See how our lobby functions in practice:

In addition, we linked several communication activities with the lobby renovation, such as:

  • social media photo contest that invites participants of our learning activities to present how they see our lobby by taking an innovative photo and sharing it via social media
  • sharing news on innovative renovation in architecture magazines