The influence of spatial structure and configuration on behaviour: case study of a complex school environment

Erica Calogero, Ruth Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper presents the study of a newly constructed secondary school (‘academy’) located in central England. The purpose was to determine whether or not a relationship exists between spatial configuration, movement and spaces for learning. This study consists of three distinct sections: first, a questionnaire and ‘social probe’, second, a series of student occupancy and movement observations using video and manual observation techniques and, third, spatial analyses conducted using space syntax methods. The study confirms that there is a relationship between movement, crowding, social encounters and potential for learning taking place within the primary circulation spaces of the school. Surprisingly, few classroom spaces were identified by pupils as good for learning. Some key, unstructured spaces in the school fulfilled a symbolic, social, circulatory and learning function. In contrast spaces restricted to circulation only were identified as merely crowded. These findings support the hypothesis that peer learning and movement through unstructured environments play an important role in aiding learning. This paper proposes a hypothetical model through which the configurational design of a school building may movement through unstructured environments play an important role in aiding learning. This paper proposes a hypothetical model through which the configurational design of a school building may influence learning success through a mechanism of probabilistic social encounter that is directly manipulable through space. We expect this relationship to remain independent though weak when compared with other factors that may influence an individual’s learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S136
JournalCognitive Processing
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009

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