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Learning Space Design Lab (c) by Autens

Want a learning environment designed around students' learning needs? Space matters!

Space matters! But how do we break away from traditional classrooms to create powerful, inspiring learning spaces for all? Learning Space Design Lab™ invites you to re-imagine learning environments based on how children learn, while transforming the shared pedagogical practice. Join > 200 schools for some serious play that engages both teachers & students - with transformative impact.

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HundrED 2020

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Target group
October 2017
We are not designing learning environments, we are designing a learning culture. Classrooms should be inspiring workplaces for students in all their diversity and different preferences in learning.

About the innovation

What is Learning Space Design Lab?

We want to change classrooms in schools completely! We need innovative classroom that inspire and support students in all their diversity and different preferences in ways of learning. One innovative teacher might set out to change his or her classroom, but this is unlikely to have a long term impact on the learning culture of the whole school. For lasting impact and meaningful change, the whole school community needs to get involved in changing the spaces that so strongly embed the learning culture of a school. Meet Learning Space Design Lab, a wonderfully creative, hands-on and playful process to change your whole school - together.

The innovator behind Learning Space Design Lab is Autens, a leading Danish education consultancy, specialising in developing and supporting visionary projects that transform schools into meaningful 21st century places for learning. Autens believes learning should be purposeful, joyful, co-created and personalised, and that learning spaces should be a reflection of this.

Among many endeavours, Autens runs Learning Space Design Labs for educators. It is used for learning space (re)design small and big scale as well as for co-creating design briefs for architects when building new schools or refurbishing existing ones. In these workshops, all staff and/or students come together to co-create desired new learning environments on the basis of a shared vision for learning. The participants have the freedom to think, play and create together, thoughtfully facilitated so that the outcome is as innovative, insightful, and inspirational as possible. The design process is hands-on, project-based learning in action, with an authentic, real-world problem that demands a solution - walking the talk of powerful learning.

The workshops have a dual, inter-related purpose: to create specific design solutions for the 21st century AND to create a shared foundation for a student-centered learning culture with a very high sense of ownership and empowerment. Not least it's a powerful too to shape innovative design briefs for architects that everyone can get behind when building or refurbishing schools.

We and our partners successfully facilitate this workshop with schools across the world. As of now we have facilitated workshops for more than 4,000 educators from more than 200 schools, influencing the learning environments for an estimated 40-60,000 students.

"I experienced first hand how this learning space design workshop with teaching staff, would be an awesome critical input learning experience - which would challenge staff to rethink their assumptions about learning, classroom space, and pedagogy." Laura Robbins (Head of Secondary LORDS College)

"I was able to watch on as the participants built their learning spaces. Listening to them explain what they had done and why was where the magic happened. They articulated their beliefs about contemporary learning as they explained their furniture and layout choices. Others then offered further suggestions and Derek challenged them to think about aspects which they hadn’t originally thought about. This would be an excellent workshop to do with a group of staff as they explore their own spaces and beliefs." Maria Denholm (Head of Junior School GNLC)

You can try out a bit of the magic for free: We created Design Lab LITE - a mini-lab touring the world from school to school enabling you to reimagine a classroom or an area for up to 50 students, working with up to 25 workshop participants (students or teachers). The only cost is postage to send it to the next school on the list. Get in touch to learn more:

If you are a consultant, whole school or wider school system wishing to work with the Learning Space Design Lab method, we are training and licensing a number of consultants and school districts across the world in the coming years, and also providing the necessary kits. Learn more here:

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


Learning Space Design Lab allows teachers to design not just a learning environment, but a learning culture. Instead of static designs, the spaces created are fluid and able to change. These spaces become dynamic tools for pedagogy, didactics, learning and well-being in the hands of teachers and learners.


When teachers are asked to design classrooms or learning spaces using this method, not a single teacher to date has designed a traditional classroom. Thus, the impact of this workshop on challenging & changing mindsets is notably impactful. Through this tactile, playful and collaborative workshop, their beliefs, knowledge and experience are channelled into creative and inspiring solutions. If that wasn’t enough, research shows that learning environments are pivotal in engaging students with their learning; however, this goes hand in hand with changing cultures and practices.


This approach can be used in all types of schools and any space within the school, such as classrooms, learning hubs, staff rooms or offices. Autens have run this workshop in over 20 schools to date!

Academy review results
Read more about our selection process

Implementation steps

Identify the space to be (re)designed and the participants involved
Getting everyone who regularly uses the spaces onboard is important.

Ifredesigning the entire school, have people working in teams around the spaces that they work in the most. Consider a pre-project meeting where the staff getto express their initial visions for the school, their everyday needs, their challenges and dreams. Use this to try to connect the dots into one model of the 4-6 most important targets that jointly representthe needs of the team (for example,flexible ways of organising, quiet concentration, collaboration). Never discuss choice of furniture and physical solutions at this step – only use verbs that relate to the pedagogical practice or adjectives as to how the spaces should make people feel.

Document the current space(s) in pictures and take photos of what the students choose to do during recess or when they are free to choose where and how to work.

Prepare the workshop

Prior to the workshop, you will need to get a lot of creative materials and stuff ready. Either get in touch with us and we will bring the Design Lab and facilitate a powerful proces - or prepare your own stuff (however please do notcopyany of our design lab elements. It is our intellectual property and thousands of hours and dollars have gone into developing the idea, the kit and the protocols).

You will need inspirational materials such as images, examples of learning environments, and floor plans. You will also need to round up a lot of materials like glue, cardboard, various fabrics, play dough. pipe cleaners etc. We recommend that a maximum of5-7 people work together on one space - so you need enough stuff for enough groups to work simultaneously.

also identify a good thought-provoking speaker or YouTube videoto kick off the workshop. The team may also find it useful to visit other redesigned learning spacesto see how others went about it.


Work together as a group in a variety of different ways to come up with a design for an innovative learning space.

The Learning Space Design Lab mirrors a good learning process: identify challenges and goals, explore, meet constraints, imagine and create, work hands-on and prototype, discuss, play, present, get feedback, and then go and do it, collaborating with peers every step of the way.

When we at Autens run a workshop, we always start by giving an inspirational, thought-provoking talk about the future of schools, how people learn and how this links with spaces. An alternative is to show a video of a good, thought-provoking talk.

We then discuss the pictures of the own current learning spaces and how students choose to use them. Next, we encourage a collaborative discussion of what kind of learning experiences the educators want to aim for, always considering the perspective of the learners. This creates the design brief for the workshop.

Autens also exposes the participants to many learning space examples, literally decorating the whole room with pictures and ideas. Educators can find favourites and explain what they like about it and how it links to the goals for their own learning space.

The next stage is to roll up your sleeves and create - in two rounds! If you work with us, we will bring the whole Design Lab Pro Kit which is guaranteed to inspire innovative ideas. Printed pictures or building things up in cardboard can be used as an alternative. Now it’s time to play, creating physical representation of the design brief. Participants are encouraged to have fun and be bold, brave and open-minded.

We sometimes introduce creative constraints to challenge the educators to think big. For example, one team may have to create a great learning environment for 3 classes using only 2 classrooms. When they get to add the third room back in round 2, it's a big luxury enabling almost anything!

The two rounds take 40-90 minutes including pitches, after which there is a whole-group discussion to conclude on the main ideas to put into action. We encourage you to document the prototypesmeticulously - and if you work with us, we will help you do all that, and bring it all together in a set of guiding principles for your learning spaces which you can use going forward.

The whole idea is to use physical artefacts to articulate, develop and negotiate ideas, thinking with your hands. It is inspired by research in how we learn and how our brain works - you might call it neuro-engagement. The results are powerfuld: No team has ever created a traditional classroom!

The Learning Space Design Lab has many applications besides learning space design and building schools. It's a very useful tool to explore specific challenges schools may have For example increased collaboration between teachers, boosting student wellbeing or identify current challenges in the learning culture.

Now it's time to gather together all the final ideas and begin to implement them.

We recommend taking a lot of pictures and possibly videos of the presentations during the workshop. We often puttogether a poster and a video of the workshop so that the results can be easily shared with others. This also helps participants toremember their intentions and solutions as they go forward and implement them. Having worked in scale, all theideas participants have come up with willfit the spaces perfectly. At this stage, it may be useful to write a list of things that need to be created, bought or built and how this can be achieved within the available budget. Educators may also wish to work with a designer to finalise their designs.

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