Why change learning spaces? Interventions of this nature are often complex and require resources and the ability to rethink methods and models which have been consolidated over time.
The transition from the school of the industrial society to the school of the knowledge society today requires diversified use scenarios, tools and methods.
The fluidity of the communication processes triggered by the ICTs clashes with physical environments which are no longer able to respond to constantly evolving educational contexts, and imposes a gradual rethinking of the spaces and places in order to provide flexible, multifunctional, modular and easily configurable solutions based on the activity to be carried out, as well as being able to satisfy different contexts. Spaces thus conceived favour the student’s active involvement and exploration, their cooperative ties and their “well-being at school”.
In addition to educational effects, Indire’s research in this area has focused on the learning environment in different but complementary ways: the aspect of well-being and the quality of life of students and the care for the aesthetic sense. Comfortable, colourful and welcoming places help make school pleasant and help make a sterile space one that can be lived in.
The analysis and in-depth study carried out in recent years by the institute has led to the proposal of the Indire 1+4 model for educational spaces in the new millennium.
“1” the group space, the group-class multifunctional learning environment, the evolution of the traditional classroom that opens onto the school and the world. An environment with flexible spaces which are in continuity with the other school environments.
“4” the school spaces which are complementary, and no longer subordinate, to the daily teaching environments. They are the Agora, the informal space, the individual area and the exploration area.
The model has become a manifesto for the new generation of educational spaces and was presented at the international conference “Environments for education. Educating Environments”, organised by the University of Kassel in Germany (http://www.uni-kassel.de/uni/). It is based on multiple levels of analysis (Brofenbrenner, 1989) and proposes a vision that differs from the idea of a school as the sum of its classrooms (Airoldi, 1978) and extends, beyond the didactic dimension, to the social context and the ability of an environment to affect the quality of social relationships (Leemans and von Ahlefeld, 2013, Lefebvre, 1991).
The research group’s work developed along differentiated and synergistic lines: the analysis of cases of excellence at the European level, the analysis of educational policies aimed at promoting innovative educational spaces, the study of technical regulations for building schools, the observation and enhancement of the ways of rethinking spaces promoted by cutting-edge schools at the national level, cooperation and reflection within research contexts and international organisations.
The research method included a literature survey and a comparative analysis of the most significant international legislation, observation visits with the application of qualitative and quantitative tools, semi-structured interviews and the development of case studies.
The editorial staff
The Indire 1+4 manifesto for educational spaces in the new millennium: the analysis and in-depth study developed by the Indire research group on school architecture
Teaching in flexible spaces