The new Sixth Form Centre at Queen Anne’s School is a state-of-the-art educational environment that, at its core, aims to enhance teaching and learning through innovative approaches to education.
The Centre, named The Space, has been designed to allow students the opportunity to feel more like adults, not only in their education but in their social development, preparing them for life beyond school, be that higher education or in industry.
In recent years there has been a significant change in the attitude of schools in relation to their requirements and desires for new learning environments. There is an inherent excitement and open-mindedness amongst schools, both private and state, to create unique, vibrant and more adult environments that promote innovative teaching methods.
As a practice, Lewandowski Architects are passionate about the relationship between the built environment and its impact upon education. The Space, which was officially opened in September 2016, was tailored to the exacting requirements of Queen Anne’s School. Lewandowski Architects designed the building and the internal fit-out to provide exciting educational environments within a unique and contemporary setting. The building creates the experience of an innovative 21st-century company such as Google or Apple, containing vibrant spaces with which students can interact.
The Space is equipped with an entirely digital library, containing an extensive collection of digital resources accessible through the school’s network. There are several large, bespoke study pods offering enclosed workspaces where students can engage in seminars or group work. These are equipped with interactive screens enabling users to project and control media from computers and mobile devices.
The classroom walls are coated with write-on, projectable wallpaper which allow teachers and students to utilise the walls as versatile visual aids. Twinned classrooms are conjoined by sliding doors, allowing them to be doubled in size, giving the school opportunities for larger events such as lectures or group work in a larger setting.
Collaborative learning and group discussions play a more influential role in the modern-day classroom. In turn this requires a more inventive use of furniture with an ability to be more flexible and create different environments. The Centre contains innovative furniture which enables varying environments. There are segmental tables which can be arranged in patterns such as clusters, arcs or rows, and they can be combined to create larger tables. These allow teachers to adjust the classroom according to the desired teaching method and allow students to customise their learning environment to their needs. Rooms are equipped with dual sitting position chairs, which can be safely tilted forwards and backwards to straighten the pelvis and spine, a design that improves circulation to the abdominal and back muscles.
There are ‘breakout’ spaces, decorated according to themes chosen by students, including Central Park, a West End Theatre and the inside of Big Ben. These spaces are creative zones, to enhance learning, allowing students to relax, work and engage in a radically different environment.
Julia Harrington, Headmistress at Queen Anne’s School, commented: “The Space is a beautiful, iconic building, but what it has brought to us as a school is so much more than that. The Space has become the hub for the rhythm of school life. It inspires us to think big, enables us to pursue our individual journeys and brings us together as a vibrant and developing community that recognises the importance of our links with each other and the world outside.”
Overall, the school want their teachers to harness the power of positive emotional contagion within the classroom to increase the motivation of all students to learn. The building’s design, the flexibility of the space and the furniture enables more effective teamwork.