Detailed Program of the Conference

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - H.7.2 Reinventing school between pedagogy, architecture and design: a dynamic laboratory
Friday, 04/June/2021:
1:15pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Beate Christine Weyland
Session Chair: Kuno Prey
Session Chair: Massimo Faiferri
Location: Room 10

Session Panels:
H.7. Reinventing school between pedagogy, architecture and design: A dynamic laboratory

External Resource:


Terence Leone

University of Bolzano, Italy

The macro-theme of learning spaces, although in northern European countries it boasts a more consolidated tradition, in the last decade has found increasing attention in Italy as well, at all levels of education. The OECD, see the work around the concept of "Innovative Learning Environments", of the European Commission (in particular the work of the Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies around the concept of "Creative Classroom"), defines "educational spaces" as physical places that support multiple teaching and learning programs and different teaching methods, including current technologies. Scientific studies (Hughes et al. 2019; Barret et al. 2016) confirm that school environments with functional, high-performance characteristics contribute to improved well-being and school performance. Many scholars agree in expanding the concept of a learning environment from the conventional classroom to a broader learning landscape composed of a set of formal and informal educational settings in which learning takes place both inside and outside schools (Weyland 2015, 2019; Tosi 2019; Ellis, 2018; Castoldi, 2020). This new awareness greatly affects what it means to improve educational-didactic action today and stands as a strategy to actualize the role and meaning of school-based education through a redefinition and extension of the broader educational setting.

The first research question is to understand the extent to which pupils have the opportunity to leave the classroom and use the other spaces in the school (laboratories, common spaces, special classrooms, outdoor space). The second question concerns the possibility of designing teaching activities also in non-classroom spaces, therefore outside the classroom of reference for the group of pupils. The hypothesis is that the space outside the classroom has unexplored teaching potential.

The research aims to analyze and understand how the choice of the places in which to allocate the teaching and learning process is able to change the active participation, interest, motivation and well-being of secondary school pupils. The empirical study takes place in South Tyrol and focuses on two German-language secondary schools in Bruneck (Italy).

The study uses a qualitative and quantitative methodology. In its initial phase, questionnaires were used to obtain baseline data on the status quo of students' perceptions, use and degree of appropriation of instructional spaces. The exploratory phase of the research uses the method of action-research through the active involvement of teachers in the development of educational paths outside the classroom.

From an initial analysis of the questionnaires distributed to 756 students in the two schools, it emerged that students have the opportunity to appropriate the environments and personalize the spaces in a limited way: the traditional classroom remains the focus of teaching, special classrooms are devoted only to explicitly laboratory disciplines, the corridors and common areas of walking in the school are used sporadically, outdoor teaching is manifested only for some temporary projects. At the same time, students ask to get out of the classroom and have the opportunity to integrate it with other environments in the school, even in an interdisciplinary way.


Camilla Marani

Free University of Bozen/Bolzano, Italy

The city is an extension of our home and our everyday life. We are the ones who have furnished it, built it, trampled on it and abused it. We are the ones who have gradually stopped taking care of it, immersed in an anthropocentric vision of the environment in which we live. Wondering how the city would be today if we paid more attention to its diversity and its body as an ecosystem produces a reversal of perspective that is worth exploring. The aim of the study will be to provide tools that can encourage the creation of new narratives of space, collected from a set of different paths and participatory visions. The practice of walking will be proposed as a diffuse and multisensory learning method to rediscover and explore the potential of urban space. The aim is to provide new keys to reading the city as an unexpected and stimulating common place. Pianta dei luoghi stems from the urgency to consider urban green space as a place of the possibility of meeting the different. It translates into a system of participatory and emotional mapping of subjective green places both online through an app, and offline through the presence of appropriate signs in public space.


Alessandra Galletti

Padlab, Italia

Inclusive design applications aim to foster a new culture. In this logic, each person has characteristics and differences, conceived as entities to be respected. In a school designed according to this logic, each pupil would be able to express his peculiar talents.

Consequently, Architects have to meet the needs of the maximum number of people with solutions suitable for users with heterogeneous needs. So they have to design the school space in line with the principles expressed by the biopsychosocial model of the ICF Classification.

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) describes disability as a condition that can affect anyone during their life, not as depending only on physical characteristics but determined by the complex relationship between people and environments.

Schools should be considered as places inhabited by people with socio-cultural peculiarities and different ways of learning. They represent a complex scenario of needs, they have to represent a context of well-being and self-fulfillment for all, going beyond the concept of spaces dedicated to differentiated approach.

The inclusive design is necessary to obtain school environments aimed to develop the autonomy, well-being, and personal growth of all students.

On this basis, a design framework was developed with the Research group on inclusive school spaces of Indire with the aim to develop pactical solutions for teachers, to experience inclusion also through the intervention on the space.

This process was implemented through the creation of an ICF-based online questionnaire able to suggest teaching situations (space configurations and related teaching activities) concerning the 1+4 Manifesto of Indire spaces (frontal lesson, independent study, playful activity, peer to peer, laboratory experience, presentation, discussion, small group), based on the included ICF profiles and therefore more compatible with the features of the analyzed users.

This questionnaire was designed to support teachers, during a streaming training course organized by Indire and USR Tuscany between October and December 2020. It was composed of intensive workshop sessions, where they were asked to design inclusive teaching activities by carrying out interventions also on space, based on the results of the questionnaire.

The principles contained in the questionnaire were put into practice and used for the design of the interior spaces and furniture of the Elvas Kindergarten (BZ), that, consisting of a brand new intervention, it could be entirely planned from the beginning. Therefore the distribution of spaces, niches, transparencies, colors, sensorial landscapes, and surface treatments was designed to create spaces of well-being and autonomy for users with different needs.


Bruna Sigillo

Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy

How will the "classrooms" of the future change?

What scientific relationship is there between space and learning?

How to foster a multidisciplinary design approach between Pedagogy, Neuroscience and Architecture?

Tackling the theme of places destined for education in the planning field demonstrates the condition of profound influence that architecture exercises on generations, as it concerns the community.

The role of "educational" architecture in Italy is in fact currently at the center of important debates that aim to explore new frontiers on a renewed way of living spaces, strengthening the role of design through the dialogue between pedagogy, sociology, neuroscience.

There is still a lot to do in the places dedicated to training. From school buildings, to educational gardens, to educational areas in museum circuits up to the enhancement of the informal places for the construction of knowledge.

There is also a substantial chapter about universities. The changes in teaching, due to the pandemic, imply relational and spatial mutations which, nowadays, cannot be solved exclusively with technological equipment: it will be important to contemplate an active involvement of the academic community. For architecture students in the singular condition of learners and designers, the space acquires further value and the training-didactic action must convey the responsibility of future Professionals on the quality of the space and the dialogue in multidisciplinary work teams.

To start an experimental research on the theme of the design of learning spaces, a laboratory with the focus "Reinventing Learning Spaces" was set up this year at the Federico II University in Naples, at the Department of Architecture, specifically dedicated to the theme of rethinking of the university classroom. Proposed by two teachers of Interior Architecture in collaboration with the research group P.A.D. Living Lab conducted at the Free University of Bolzano, the course aims to explore the unexpressed possibilities of the space lived by students and teachers and build an analytical basis, a reference framework, on which to define possible scenarios of transformation.

Pedagogy, Architecture and Design will dialogue to lead students in a metaproject experiment by observing the space from the inside, on the small scale of the classroom with the aim of extending its boundaries to explore the potential beyond the enclosure and trying to investigate the needs of users-inhabitants of the academic community to restore a perspective towards the learning spaces of tomorrow, beyond the Pandemic and the inevitable repercussions it will bring to living the spaces of everyday life.

The articulation of the work foresees a seminar base that will support the laboratory actions with scientific contents and in a transversal way thanks to the interventions of professionals and teachers, providing students with a toolkit to investigate the design theme of the learning spaces through the identification of spatial areas typical of interior architecture and with a highly multidisciplinary approach. The survey will be contextualized in cultural terms in the contemporary debate which increasingly attests to the need for dialogue between experts - pedagogues, architects, innovators - in the context of the re-definition of places for growth, sociability, learning.


Petra Regina Moog

Sophia::Academy, Germany

A clear trend of increasing municipal participation procedures can be stated at present in Germany: Pupils and teachers are invited and intensively involved in school building planning processes, called “PHASE ZERO” starting before experts professional planning. City councils have adopted their school building guidelines with new participation procedures. Involving pupils, parents, teachers and the surrounding neighborhood in planning or reconstruction of public school buildings becomes the “NewNormal”. Until 2030 around 50 billion € (KfW Bank, 2018) will be invested in Germany's schools, and a correspondingly large number of participation procedures are being launched.

While in the past school leaders had hardly opportunities to participate in (re)building their schools, all school stakeholders are now involved in a concrete and time-consuming planning process that at least involves three stages. Trained process facilitators design participation procedures tailored for the very specific school and translate the jointly developed results and needs of all school stakeholders into the technical language of architecture, technical planning and municipal building management. The multi-professional participation processes generally lead to a change of the school building type, e.g. corridors and hallways are turned into innovative learning spaces. In turn after schools occupancy of the new space the changed environment is influencing the further development of teaching, education and school organisation (Mulcahy, 2015). Thus, participation is a motor for school development.

The influential role of participatory planning is becoming an important force for change not only for the spatial learning environments, but also for school culture, school organisation, and democratic development (Sigurðardóttir, 2016). According to Sanoff (2012) “Its strength lies in being a movement that cuts across traditional professional boundaries and cultures. Its roots lie in the ideals of participatory democracy where collective decision-making is highly decentralized throughout all sectors of society, so that all individuals learn participatory skills and can effectively participate in various ways in the making of all decisions that affect them.
Furthermore, at personal level experiencing a Phase Zero process leads to new perspectives, more tolerance and self-efficiancy or like a 13 year old boy claimed: “My opinion matters!“
The significance for education and democracy development is acknowledged recently by severe financial support of EU-Erasmus+ Innovation funds supporting two related projects (LEA, MOBILE, 2020).

20 Phase Zero processes were analysed, evaluated and reflected upon. Relevant indicators e.g. structure, process transparency, interactive methods, influence of time e.g. duration, school seasons etc. were identified. Essential conditions for success as well as obstacles are described. An efficient basic Phase Zero procedure is presented added by tailored variations. For audience involvement within the conference an online participation tool is integrated in the presentation.

LEA (2020)

MOBILE (2020)

Mulcahy,D.,B. Cleveland & H.Aberton (2015) Learning Spaces and Pedagogic Change: Envisioned, Enacted and Experienced. Pedagogy, Culture and Society 23(4): 575–595.

Sanoff,H. (2012) Participatory Design and Planning in The Encyclopedia of Housing#2 ed. A.T.Carswell.

Sigurðardóttir, A.K. & T.Hjartarson (2016) The Idea and Reality of an Innovative School: From Inventive Design to Established Practice in a New School Building. Improving Schools 19(1):62–79.



Lo Spazio Flessibile, Italia

Why are we so subjected to what the spaces in which we live convey to us?

What information do we receive from space and how do we interpret it?

The reflection on the capacity of space to generate emotions has always accompanied me: some spaces have the ability to touch the soul and speak, to the point of moving us: space, like life, is made up of relationships and always communicates in a symbolic way with our "inner" space.

At all times, we dialogue with space at an unconscious level and the research of “Lo spazio flessibile” connects two disciplines, art therapy and architecture, working symbolically with space: space awareness laboratories that, starting from the reflection on one’s inner space, open the way to a critical elaboration on the lived space and the influence that the space around us has on us. Just as Architecture is the discipline that deals with the organization of space at any scale, Art Therapy is the discipline that deals with the organization of the "inner" space.

"Lo spazio flessibile" believes in the pedagogical role of architecture, in its ability to shape our shell on a symbolic level, through play, creativity and relationships.

Observing space, listening to it, acknowledging the feelings that it conveys, retracing it with our memories, are key milestones in this journey of the senses and of the critical knowledge of the environment that surrounds us.

Learning to listen involves a work on the recognition of one's emotions and an emotional growth: working on a symbolic level through a metaphorical dialogue with ourselves opens direct channels on our awareness and suggests ways to work on to become active and aware users of our space, external and inner.

The pedagogical aspect becomes fundamental, the arts and architecture become a privileged channel as they dialogue directly with our emotions.

Space awareness courses are promoted in schools of all levels, starting from childhood where dialogue between structural elements assumes a role of "foundation" for the discovery of the reality that surrounds us, up to secondary schools where the pedagogical role of architecture becomes more conscious.

Proposing space awareness workshops with children in kindergarten means helping to form and consolidate a structure that is still in its embryonic phase.

We all need a structure, and this is formed through our life experiences, a structure that supports us and identifies us, that allows us to orient ourselves in relation to the outside world.

" What is needed most in architecture today is the very thing that is most needed in life- Integrity. If you defend the integrity of your building, you will defend the integrity of society as a whole: a mutual relationship is inevitable."

(Frank Lloyd Wright, “Integrity” in “The Natural House” in “F.L.Wright, Writings and buidings” Horizon Press, New York 1960, pag 292-293)


Maja Antonietti1, Fabrizio Bertolino2, Monica Guerra3, Michela Schenetti4

1University of Parma, Italy; 2University of Aosta Valley, Italy; 3University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy; 4University of Bologna, Italy

Over the past ten years, Italian early childhood education centres (0-6 years) and schools – especially primary level – have spearheaded renewed interest in outdoor education, supported by a vibrant Italian education literature that has pursued different related lines of inquiry (Oliverio & Oliverio Ferraris, 2011; Bertolino & Perazzone, 2012; Bardulla, 2014; Farnè & Agostini, 2014; Malavasi, 2014; Schenetti, Salvaterra & Rossini, 2015; Guerra, 2015; Chistolini, 2016; Antonieti & Bertolino, 2017; Farnè, Bortolotti & Terrusi, 2018; Bertolino & Guerrra, 2020; Guerra, 2020; Mortari, 2020). Outdoor experiences bear rich potential and educational value, enhancing children’s wellbeing, their global, contextualized, and interrelated learning, and their environmental/ecological awareness (Raith & Lude, 2014; Humberstone et al. 2016; Waller et al. 2017). The debate on outdoor education has also examined the competences that teachers/educators need to have, or develop, in order to deliver such experiences.

Outdoor education offerings vary according to the identity of the education services providing them – which in Italy are particularly diverse – but also as a function of the different kinds of outdoor environment where they are implemented, which present differing degrees of anthropization, despite being generically defined and perceived as “natural spaces” that have undergone little or no intentional modification by humans. A key aspect of an individual’s relationship with the environment – whether the person guiding an outdoor educational experience or the one who is actively benefiting from it – is affordance (Waters, 2017). Introducing the theme of affordances into the debate on outdoor experiences that offer direct contact with natural environments means acknowledging the need to reflect on the kinds of perceptions and intuitions that are elicited by the features of a given environment. As noted by Fjortoft (2001, p. 111), affordance concerns "awareness of environments and their functional significance, or their functional meaning", an awareness that has expanded over time, even within socio-constructivist paradigms (Kytta, 2002, 2004; Waters 2013). The focus of this paper is the affordances of natural environments in which outdoor education activities are intentionally offered by educators and teachers with prior interest and experience in the field.

Importantly, on the post-graduate course in "Education and Nature: role and skills of the outdoor professional" – currently on its fourth edition – future practitioners of outdoor education are invited to explore the different settings/environments in which outdoor educational activities can take place, with a view to identifying and developing an appreciation of their distinctive features, including from an interdisciplinary perspective. In this paper, we analyse materials documenting outdoor experiences conducted by around 200 educators/teachers as part of their course work, investigating the reasons why particular environments are chosen for educational activities that are intentionally implemented in non-traditional settings, including the perceived and observed characteristics of these environments, their potential advantages, and their impact on the quality and meaning of educational experience.