Alex Hillman talked to Raechel French, a K-12 educational space planner. She gave her insight into the collaborative process she uses to design innovative schools which can be applied to coworking.
Humans and the environment have a symbiotic relationship. Raechel focuses on how the architecture impacts teaching and learning.
Her goal is to transform every square foot of a school into a space for learning. This really breaks beyond the four walls. There is a huge shift towards students being more involved in the actual learning process and taking more control. A lot of this stems from the ability to access knowledge anytime and anywhere with increased technology. What is hard to learn is what to do with that information — critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, collaborating, etc. Instead of having a lecture type of classroom, more and more schools are adopting a project-based learning system. This allows students to interact with one another and to interact across disciplines. There are a lot more flexible, collaborative areas that are visible from the classroom for students to breakout into. A variety of space is needed to supplement the variety of activity.
When she is designing, she wants to take the unengaged students and figure out how to get them invested in the space. Figuring out what would make them excited to be in the facility has a huge impact on what their learning experience is like. Students need to be prepared for the changing workforce. Creating a space that fits the now, but can evolve into what works for the future is important. It is hard to imagine a space you cannot see without any kind of framing. By getting students to ask questions, they will start contributing to a more valuable conversation.
We oftentimes put an existing organization into a new space and expect it to adapt. These expectations need to change into something more realistic. Facilitation of an organization into a new space takes time. People need to adapt to the changes that are being made.