What will you create?

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Aitken Creek Primary School is a P-6 school. Built in 2010 under the recent Public-Private Partnership (PPP) development, Aitken Creek Primary School is an excellent state of the art learning facility that brings together the best in contemporary educational design and promotes active student-centred learning through the creation of flexible, functional spaces. All teachers work in learning communities to create flexible teaching options in classrooms and to better cater for the individual needs of all students. The school upholds high expectations of all and provides an exciting and inclusive experience for staff, students and families. (Aitken Creek Primary School, 2011).
Design Problem:
An open space between classrooms at Aitken Creek Primary School predominately used a walkway as it is the major thoroughfare between the main school building and portable buildings at the back of the school. The space contains a variety of chairs, ottomans and tables that are pushed towards the back corner and window. It is not used as an effective, integrated, modern learning space by the teachers or students in the area, the doors facing onto the space are often closed which results in the space being eliminated altogether.
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  • Furniture in the space is provided by the long term facilitates management company that was involved in the PPP.
  • Any new furniture purchased would come from the school budget so needs to be limited.
  • Staff professional learning sessions are generally taken up with school priorities in accordance with the school strategic plan- making it hard to fit in extra PD.
  • iPad Trolley is secured to the wall.
  • It is the shortest route for teachers and students walking from the portable buildings to the front of the school.
  • The design should allow for the space to be used for teaching and learning as well as provide a thoroughfare that reduces / eliminates congestion and interruptions.
  • The space needs to be valued by teachers as an extension of their classroom- not a ‘separate’ space.
  • It should be aesthetically pleasing and inviting for students.
  • The space should provide opportunities for teachers to act as mentors and coaches, where learning and teaching occurs simultaneously through play, imagination, tinkering, making and connecting (DML Research Hub, 2012).
  • The space should be indicative of a modern learning environment that thrives on innovation and illustrates a collaborative approach to teaching and learning (Doorley & Witthoft, 2012). It should enable the classroom environment to move away from the traditional model of an isolated, single-teacher in one classroom (Campbell, et.al. 2013).
  • Flexible and distributed learning should provide a seamless student experience, with facilities and furnishings supporting different learning models (Weaver, 2007). The space design needs to be flexible- being able to be used by different age students, teams of teachers and supports learning in multiple areas of the curriculum.
How might Aitken Creek Primary School:
  • Celebrate / showcase innovative uses of learning spaces?
  • Create a more welcoming space with given furniture and facilities
  • Make the space an engaging and ‘wanted’ place to be?
  • Engage teachers in more innovative and contemporary learning design rather than current traditional and habitual practices?
  • Engage students in making their own choices about the space?
  • Make the space more like a start up office? A tech company? (Inspiration herehere and here).
  • Make the teacher enjoy the space more than their classroom?
  • Challenge teacher assumptions of the ‘role of the teacher’?
  • Innovate traditional teaching in the space?
Aitken Creek Primary School puts our students first and wants to provide them with the most conducive learning spaces in order for them to achieve success. It is for this reason that it is imperative that the design goes beyond the boundaries of the physical space (Brown and Katz, 2011). Instead of developing the current ideas in place, Aitken Creek Primary School wants new and creative ideas to better meet the needs of teachers and learners (Brown, 2008). What will you create?
Comments on other briefs-
Aitken Creek Primary School (2011). About Us. http://www.aitkencreekps.vic.edu.au/articles/7
Brown, T. (2008). Design thinkingHarvard Business Review, 86(6), 84-92. Retrieved from:http://hbr.org/2008/06/design-thinking/
Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=59161877&site=ehost-live
Campbell, M., Saltmarsh, S.,Chapman, A. &Drew, C. (2013). Issues of teacher professional learning within ‘non-traditional’ classroom environments. Improving Schools. vol. 16 no. 3 209-222. Retrieved from http://imp.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/16/3/209
DML Research Hub. (2012). The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights). [Video File]. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM
Doorley, D., & Witthoft, S. (2012). Make Space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration. John Wiley & Sons.
Weaver, M. (2007). Exploring Connections of Learning and Teaching  Through the Creation of Flexible Learning Spaces: The Learning Gateway – A Case Study. New Review of Academic Librarianship. vol. 12 no 2. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/doi/full/10.1080/13614530701330414#tabModule



  1. Thanks Bec – a thoughtful design brief: I especially liked your final ‘comment’ being a question. Left me thinking … and relating to our recently built open spaces where the humans who occupy the space [ie students and teachers] were not considered in the design process.

    Your link to your school’s philosophical underpinnings relates to what Brown (2009, p. 73) writes as a blend of “bottom-up experimentation and guidance from above,” as well as acknowledging the importance of ‘play’ in the process. (Kuratko, Goldworthy & Hornsby, 2012, p. 115).



    Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. HarperCollins: New York.

    Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson. Retrieved from https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/kuratko-d1.pdf


  2. Hi Bec,
    Yes, meeting the needs of the staff and students is paramount and will star in the user-centred approach to redesigning the space. I too have been reading Doorley and Wittloft’s ‘Make Space’; I though it was full of many practical ideas. I bought a copy of this book and ‘The Third Teacher’ for my teachers’ reading collection in the Library. There was some interesting comments in the book about
    -anchoring equipment and basic equipment, like the I pads in your space.
    – looking closely at the value in areas where people move through; your space sounds a bit like this.
    – creating ‘perch’ spaces like benches where people can stop and gather.
    I could see these ideas being integrated in your area.

    Doorley, D., & Witthoft, S. (2012). Make Space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration. John Wiley & Sons.


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