Built to Learn: the case for biophilic design in classrooms

There are many different variables that affect one’s ability to learn. Koru Architects’ new report breaks down how design affects learning outcomes, and how we can increase cognition through design.

 Built to Learn: the case for biophilic design in classroomsResearch Blog

Everyone in the education sector has similar core goals: to help students broaden their minds, develop important life skills, achieve their potential and, of course, pass their tests and get good grades.

The campus – far from being an inert vessel – has wide-ranging psychological and physical effects on its users. We already know design affects learning outcomes in a number of well-documented ways, for example the relationship between cognition and basic physical factors like temperature, lighting and ventilation.

Now, new areas of research on the connection between nature or green space and learning, productivity and wellbeing is coming to light.

This, combined with theories of how people learn and the constructivist paradigm, has important implications for the design of schools, colleges and universities. Innovative green design has a huge potential for enriching the learning environment to better facilitate student engagement, achievement and wellbeing.

Koru’s report outlines how design affects learning outcomes and what you – as an educator, parent, or governor – can do to ensure students’ potential is reached.

3 key ways design affects learning

The report covers each of these points in its own comprehensive chapter (with Koru’s design recommendations) but in summary:

  • Physical conditions – how factors like temperature, noise, lighting and ventilation can affect learning, as well as student and teacher stress.
  • Learner-centred design – this chapter explores constructivism, communal and secluded spaces and agency, and engagement and flexibility.
  • Nature and biophilic design – discussing the Attention Restoration Theory and natural views, ‘prospect’ and ‘refuge’ spaces and the effect of indoor plants.

You can read Koru’s full report here.

PassivPod: biophilic design improves learning outcomes

With pupil numbers set to exceed eight million by 2023 – with the equivalent of 2000 extra schools needed – PassivPod classrooms are a quick and sustainable way to add capacity. UK schools are under increasing pressure, with demand outstripping supply, creating a need to innovate.

PassivPod classrooms have been designed with biophilic principles in mind. The rich natural light, non-traditional organic form and natural materials provide an inspiring, comfortable and healthy learning space while the sustainable technologies built into the PassivPod can themselves act as active learning tools.

PassivPod is a perfect compliment to the Eco-Schools programme, an awards scheme to which 70% of England schools and 40,000 schools worldwide have registered.


Are you in education? What do you think of biophilic design in the classroom?

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