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Learning Landscapes

Inga Sidereviciute

Published Apr 14, 2021


Educational approaches are rapidly transforming due to innovation and the on-going technological development in our contemporary society. Do we witness the moment that the school, as we know, will vanish since all knowledge is available on the internet, or will they emerge transformed and renewed due to the increasing demands of a knowledge-oriented society where learning never stops? Schools are taking a new role by developing into places of engagement, lifelong learning, and public life: forming the beating heart of the community (Bekkering, 2018).


Instead of following the general school syllabus, Vittra education schools focus on pupils as individuals. There are no standard classrooms or strict subject schedule, children have their own individual development plans which were deeply discussed with their mentors (teachers). In this school it is very important that pupils could discover how they could learn more efficiently, it can be either lying, sitting, standing, working in groups, or as individuals. Each student has a personal laptop computer that helps them to bring their work to a more comfortable environment. 

Vittra Telefonplan school architect, Rosan Bosch, designs every furniture in order to create a flexible and creative environment. There are no walls or partitions for classrooms, all space is divided by using playful furniture. Pupils of the school are very happy, they don't feel trapped as they felt in a regular classroom, and according to them, they focus better because minds about going home faster do not come. The school environment stimulates pupils’ curiosity, every morning they come to the school as to the playground (Wise, 2012).

PROJECT LOCATION The project takes place in a city in Belgium named Sint – Truiden. It is a city divided into two parts by railway. One part is developed and dense, while another is green and open (Figure 1). The school site is situated right next to the railway on the less dense side. The idea of the site is to create a connection (Figure 2) with the rest of the city by making school areas combined with a public gathering place where different events could take a place (Figure 3).


Schools are not about mass education anymore and when designing school buildings now we have to take students’ opinions into account. This is the reason why the project is based on research on how students feel in schools and what they think is the best way to study. In order to make the school environment attractive and interactive, several different types of common spaces and classrooms were used. 

Another important thing was to make school spaces usable independently when main – education – function is closed. To accomplish that, the main function was divided into blocks with different entrances, which means if there will be a need, residents will be able to use a sports hall, workshops, and canteen for communal events.


School itself has 4 floors above the ground and a double-height underground level. Each floor contains a different function (Figure 4). The underground level (Figure 5) is for workshops and parking. Workshops can be accessed directly from the outside by the ‘outside corridor’ where outdoor exhibitions can take a place. On the ground floor (Figure 6) sports hall, canteens, and teachers block are located. The first floor (Figure 7) is for regular classrooms and a library. The second floor (Figure 8) contains flexible wall classrooms and top floor (Figure 9) is an open plan area where students can find in what kind of position they learn the best. The last floor is not for teaching, it is for students who and to study individually or in the groups without the interruption of the teacher. Rooftop is one of the several terraces in the school where students can interact with the surrounding environment. There is a special part of the school - ramps and voids (Figures 10 and 11) - which were designed for circulation and visual connection to other floors. Since the top floor is not for teaching, it can sometimes be loud. In order to prevent that, instead of ramps, only voids were left which are framed by glass walls to stop the noise coming to floors below. Two different outside areas of the school were designed. One is a bit smaller, combines of bridges, voids, and greenery plots. Another is more spacious because that is the side where the event will happen. To create some seating area, stairs reaching 2m height were created. Similar stairs are also located in the firstly mentioned areas and underground workshop areas.


For façade, natural impregnated wood was chosen not only because the goals were to create school environment – friendly but because wood gives warmness and is easily relatable material (Figure 14, 15, 16, 18). Horizontal surfaces were made out of concrete with a combination of green areas (Figure 17).


Bekkering, J. (2018) Lecture for Masterproject Studio “Learning Landscapes”. 

Wise (2012). Retrieved from Wise Channel in Youtube website: continue=1&v=oNLuw6DOkRM

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