Connecting people, places and learning

Working collaboratively to design learning estates for Scotland's new generation of learners.

Pupils and teachers walking through a hallway in Kingsland Primary School. There are brightly coloured chairs near the window on the right.

At Architecture and Design Scotland we believe that design has the power to bring people together and make better places for everyone. This belief extends towards educational places and seeing first-hand how people in well-designed environments receive a positive experience throughout their academic and vocational journey.   

We are currently supporting the Scottish Government and collaborating with Scottish Futures Trust to help anyone involved in design proposals for learning estates across Scotland by sharing our learnings, co-ordinating advice and supporting local authorities. 

Only by working together can we create learning environments that will help improve the lives of Scotland’s learners. 

Our work on learning estates

As part of our goal of seeing the benefits of the Place Principle become an everyday reality to the way Scotland’s places are created, adapted and sustained, we’ve pulled together specific resources that focuses on improving learning estates. 

You can read about some of the projects we’ve been a part of to date. Work that has enabled us to inspire and support those involved in designing and shaping our learning estates. 

A wooden structure inside a school where primary school pupils sit on the floor as part of a lesson.

Supporting the strategy through participation and placemaking

We support conversations around needs and ambitions by including learners, teachers and communities in participation methods for co-designing learning environments.  

This process allows all of us to see a bigger picture of what to connect, how to connect it and what form the built environment should include to accommodate these connections.  

And we do this through the Inspiring Learning Spaces Toolkit.

Image credit: Martin Shields

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A young girl in a hijab presenting her work in a workshop to a group of people. A red canopy in the park is presented on the screen behind her.

Design advice for schools

Design advice for schools provides support to education authorities, schools and anyone who is involved in briefing stage of school investments and design. To facilitate change for your learning estate, this can include: 

  • external view 
  • peer support  
  • facilitation 
  • learning networks  
  • resources  

Image credit: Miss Lydia Photography

It works at three points in the project development cycle.

Developing a map of need by engaging with learners, teachers and stakeholders which is collected into a series of reports used for design statement. This document sets out requirements, objectives, and the qualitative criteria, helping to form part of the strategic brief for the project.  

Supporting a peer review of the emerging design ideas. We draw on our internal expertise and asses the proposal against the design statement to provide a design assessment which evaluates the effectiveness of the proposal. 

 Teachers discussing a model floorplan of their school during a Tests of Change workshop and shifting walls around the walls.

Tests of Change

Tests of change is a process that trials out new ways of working for creating learning spaces. It’s a process that requires us to engage with learners and teachers to highlight issues and opportunities that arise within a learning environment.  

During this process we aim to: 

  • Develop a culture of testing to inform investment and approaches to designing spaces 
  • Enhance teaching and learning environments 
Read case studies

We use the following methods.

Consulting with school leaders and teachers to establish the scope of practice change and identify issues and opportunities. 

Involving learners and teachers in workshop participation (space hacks) to trial temporary spatial solutions. 

Highlighting observations and findings from the space hack to help inform investment opportunities. 

Looking down towards the ground floor exterior of Kingsland Primary School. Pupils and teachers are walking on the pavement next to the stone and wood façade building.

Applying the Learning Estate Strategy to our work

Delivered by the government, the Learning Estate Strategy (LES) aims to improve outcomes for communities by connecting people, place and learning through its guiding principles. 

We apply the LES to our work to help improve education investment, manage the transition of the learning experience and empower individuals within the learning community. 

Image credit: Paul Zanre

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Related case studies

We have a collection of case studies that showcase well-designed educational spaces for schools across Scotland. Learn about what you can include for your learning estate from real-life examples.

A group of students sit and walk on a wide stair case inside a building

In-between spaces in further education

View case study
Learners socialising and studying on an indoor terrace. The terrace is a multipurpose wide set of stairs.

Social spaces in learning environments

View case study
A man wearing glasses sands down plaster at an engineering workshop at City of Glasgow College. The room overlooks the skyline.

STEM spaces in further education

View case study

Header image credit: Paul Zanre

Collaborating with learners and teachers for your learning environment

Seek out the voices of people that use your learning environment and let us guide you in the right direction. Depending on your unique design needs, our colleagues can help direct you to the best resources or provide advice for your learning estate project.

Get in touch