2017 Learning Environments Australasia Conference

by Sandra Hinchey

I was fortunate to represent Webber Architects at this year’s Learning Environments Australasia Conference in Singapore.  The conference served as a unique opportunity to engage with other experts in the field of education and learning spaces, participate in workshops exploring education design principles as well as enjoy a different cultural experience.

In Australia as we embark on more vertical and inner-city schools to improve efficiency of land use I have shared with my team the lessons learnt from the evolution of the Singaporean education system emphasising the need for agility in renovation and reuse as school demands change.  The challenge of creating a sense of safety and community within a high-rise building by breaking down the design and providing a variety of spaces and connected spaces was discussed.

I was able to share with my team also details of two initiatives redesigning the meaning of education, one with the approach of enabling people within underprivileged and remote communities to come together to learn a new skill empowering them to share within their village and one, where libraries and books are provided to schools encouraging ongoing learning and community engagement.  We are inspired by this investment in human potential limited by opportunities and access to learning spaces and programs.

The importance of early childhood education and the link between one’s collective experience in early childhood and the wellbeing of a society was also discussed which was worthwhile our team reflecting upon given our current responsibility for the design of a number of early childhood education centres.

As an extension to the experience I had in Singapore I took the opportunity on a recent family holiday in Fiji to visit a local village and nearby primary school.  The school was in vast contrast to the high-rise schools discussed at the conference but aligned with the initiatives of redesigning the meaning of education making it more accessible to all.  I found it interesting to see, hear and experience the learning methods students and educators are undertaking in other countries, making the most of the resources available to them.  It was an opportunity for my family and me to assist on their learning journey via the donation of some small stationery supplies to the school.