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Photo: Bryan Byerlee, Nathan Strenge, Bridgitte Alomes, Heather Breton

LearningScapes, organized by the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), is a significant gathering focused on the design and development of learning spaces around the world. This event, held in October 2023 in Chicago, brought together over 800 educators, architects, and design professionals for an intensive four-day exploration of innovative ideas and solutions in the world of education. Attending events like LearningSCAPES allows us as education leaders to continually expand our knowledge, hear different perspectives, and connect with fellow stakeholders in the education space.

In the spirit of sharing best practices to influence the learning landscape, Bridgitte Alomes, Natural Pod CEO, had the opportunity to collaborate with industry experts, including Nathan Strenge from Fielding International, and Bryan Byerlee and Heather Breton from Cranston School District, to present the remarkable project where learners informed the recently opened Garden City Elementary.

The event illuminated key themes that leading educators and design professionals are considering when shaping the learning spaces they create. These themes included:

Balancing Health and Performance: The importance of designing spaces that promote both physical and mental well-being, creating environments where learners and educators can thrive.

High-Performance Investments: Considering factors such as quality, durability, ease of maintenance, and the time it takes to replace components or elements within a space. These considerations go hand in hand with the initial purchase price, forming a comprehensive view of the total cost of ownership.

Student-Led and Social-Emotional Learning: Empowering learners to take charge of their learning journey while fostering social-emotional skills, promoting a holistic approach to education.

Choice and Autonomy: Recognizing the significance of providing learners with choices in their learning process, allowing them to personalize their educational experience.

Creating Competent and Secure Spaces: Designing learning environments where learners feel competent and secure, enabling them to focus on their studies without distractions.

Biophilic Elements and Trauma-Informed Design: Incorporating natural elements into educational spaces to support trauma-informed design and create environments that promote calmness and well-being.

LearningSCAPES 2023 provided invaluable insights and connections for all participants, emphasizing the importance of staying connected to industry developments with the goal of connecting physical design to the impact on learners and educators. These events are ideal opportunities for educators and A&D professionals to discover the latest trends, exchange ideas, and learn from one another. Together, we can continue to transform learning spaces, providing optimal support for both learners and educators.

We look forward to engaging with many of you in the future whether that be at LearningSCAPES, regional A4LE events, or other gatherings in the coming year. Let’s collaborate to create innovative learning environments that empower and inspire the next generation of learners. Together, we can make a difference.