Learning Environments Spatial Lab

Learning Environments Spatial Lab

In an old gymnasium within the heart of a 1930’s heritage listed building at the University of Melbourne, Architectus has created a truly flexible and adaptable space where educators, designers, facility managers, clients, end users and students can explore, create and test their visions of learning environments. Within the University’s mandate to provide compliant, cost effective and environmentally sustainable design, a very unique space has been created.

A visitor to the Learning Environments Spatial Lab (LESL) might encounter a range of simultaneous activity – including a small group discussion around a large kitchen table; a mock portion of a classroom set-up to model the use of a new audio-visual device and a design team creating cardboard templates of proposed tables for small-group learning. On another occasion, the visitor might find the entire floor space is laid out as a possible configuration for collaborative, team-teaching in a distinct disciplinary field (e.g. Physics) for a class of 42 students. The use of the LESL in this way can be programmed over an intensive period to replicate real-life, timetabled classes for trainee teachers.

The Learning Environments Spatial Lab is intended to make problematic a host of matters relating to the design of classrooms, in order to challenge users of the space in regard to their own thinking about what a classroom can be. LESL makes problematic issues such as the use of colour, materials, classroom orientation, collaborative learning group size, collaborative table shape and height, integration of technology, division of space in shared settings and provision of working surfaces for students. It is not about presenting users with an answer to these issues which we are advocating they duplicate, rather it is a matter of raising these issues in a setting where they can experience them directly.

This project, instigated and championed by the University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Peter Jamieson, is at the forefront of exploring how collaboration can be facilitated through design.

Project Sheet

Project Summary

University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia
Floor area
Original value


  • 2012 CEFPI Education Initiative/Design Solution for an Innovative Program National Award

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