Guidelines for the Design of Sustainable Learning Laboratories that Teach Through Architecture

Jun 01, 2010

Through this project and the support of the American Institute of Architects, the Center for High Performance Learning Environments (CHPLE), and the School of Education at Virginia Tech, in cooperation with the Southwest Virginia Science Museum, Reader and Swartz Architects and the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, science educators, and the International Institute for Sustainable Labs (I2SL) are seeking to transform the design of schools and learning laboratories from passive vessels to active participants in learning. The focus of this transformative process is on sustainability and environmental stewardship and the opportunities within architecture to teach these subjects. Through a qualitative research paradigm that included case studies, observation and documentation, data reduction and coding, and interpretation, links between building features, museum, laboratories and school displays and exhibits, and learning were identified and mapped to the architectural design process. In addition, a group of middle school students from Southwest Virginia participated in a mock design of an “environmentally responsive” building. Through this qualitative approach dimensions of student learning related to architecture and the environment were identified and translated to architectural decisionmaking. Through participation on the designs for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, the Southwest Virginia Science Museum and an Environmental Learning Center for Southwest Virginia, an understanding for the interrelationships between pedagogical issues and building systems was mapped. In addition, middle school teachers and museum exhibit designers participated in the development of strategies to explicitly link architecture to learning. By further developing this map through this proposal, lessons-learned were summarized that assist architects in designing environments that directly support learning.

Jim Jones Ph.D. (Virginia Tech)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects

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