Looking for Educational Environments. Rising Design Attitudes to Shape Contemporary Interior Spaces

  • Marco BorsottiEmail author
  • Alessandra Spagnoli
Part of the Research for Development book series (REDE)


In this essay, focused on the analysis, coding and mapping of the architectural features characterising a wide selection of international school building projects—both new and adaptations of existing ones—the theme of the quality of interior spaces for educational environments is confirmed as a central element for the design of school architectures able to respond to the needs for some inhabiting guarantees, such as comfort, hospitality, recognition and belonging to the school community. Starting from the qualitative and quantitative mapping of paradigmatic projects and with the support of exclusive interviews with some of the designers of the founding quoted case studies, have been identified some ‘recurring projects attitudes’, able to offer one projective interest on real topics. In fact, they propose solutions aimed at those questions essential to a qualitative leap in school buildings, towards the creation of educational environments. We have called them: the school as a place of relationship, the highly specialised school, the equipped school; the recognisable school, the customized school and the open school.



The paper is the result of common research and findings undertaken by the authors. Nevertheless, Sects. 1, 2 and 8 were edited by Marco Borsotti; Sects. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 were edited by Alessandra Spagnoli.

The authors would like to thank the architectural firms––ARGE Behnisch Architekten | ALN; Rosan Bosch Studio; C. F. Møller Architects; Urban Projects Bureau; Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes––for their support in research and for kindly giving interviews.


  1. Atkin, J. (2011). Transforming spaces for learning. Designing for education: Compendium of exemplary educational facilities 2011. OECD.Google Scholar
  2. Baur, R. (1998). Architecture et graphisme. Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Bickford, D. J., & Wright, D. J. (2006). Community: The hidden context for learning. In D. G. Oblinger (Ed.). Learning spaces. Washington: EDUCAUSE. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from
  4. Brown, M., & Long, P. (2006). Trends in learning space design. In D. G. Oblinger (Ed.), Learning spaces. Washington: EDUCAUSE. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from
  5. Cannella, G. (2016). Reinventare gli ambienti di apprendimento. Progetto pedagogico e design partecipativo. In G. Biondi, S. Borri, L. Tosi (Eds.), Dall’aula all’ambiente di apprendimento (pp. 75–90). Firenze: Altralinea Edizioni.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, A. (2010). Transforming children’s spaces: Children’s and adults’ participation in designing learning environments. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, B. (2011). Introduction. In Children in Scotland (Ed.). Making space: Architecture and design for children and young people (pp. 8–9). Edimburgh: Children in Scotland.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, S. (2000). Color perception: Philosophical, psychological, artistic, and computational perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fisher, K. (2005). Linking pedagogy and space. Victoria University Australia: Department of. Retrieved from
  10. Hertzberger, H. (2008). Space and learning. Rottersdam: 010 Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Itten, J. (1961). The art of color. Ravensburg: Otto Maier Verlag.Google Scholar
  12. Kühn, C. (2011). Learning environments for the 21st century. Designing for Education. Compendium of exemplary educational facilities 2011. OECD, 2011.Google Scholar
  13. Mahnke, F. H. (1996). Color, environment, & human response. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Manzini, E. (2015). Design when everybody designs: An introduction to design for social innovation. Cambridge (US): MIT Press.Google Scholar
  15. McDonough, & Braungart (2002). Cradle to Cradle. Remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press.Google Scholar
  16. Nair, P. (2014). Blueprint for tomorrow: Redesigning schools for student-centered learning. Harvard: Harvard Education Press.Google Scholar
  17. School Choice International. (2008). Education in the Netherlands: An overview. New York: School Choice International (Ed.).Google Scholar
  18. Thomburg, D. (2013). From the campfire to the holodeck: Creating engaging and powerful 21st century learning environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  19. Tosi, L. (2016). Spazi educativi flessibili e ambienti differenziati. In G. Biondi, S. Borri, L. Tosi (Eds.), Dall’aula all’ambiente di apprendimento (pp. 51–73). Firenze: Altralinea Edizioni.Google Scholar
  20. Walden, R. (2015). Introduction. In Walden R. (Ed.), Schools for the future. Springer Fachmediem Wiesbaden.Google Scholar
  21. Weyland, B. (2017). Progettare scuole insieme: Strategie e processi tra spazi e didattiche. RTH. Research Trends in Humanities, 1. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture and Urban StudiesPolitecnico di MilanoMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of DesignPolitecnico di MilanoMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations