Breaking Down The Walls: Barker College’s Imaginarium
Bringing schools into the 21st century through flexible, innovative spaces [PWC. APRIL 2017]
“We shape our buildings and afterwards, our buildings shape us” – Winston Churchill
Education is universally recognised as a pillar for both economic and social growth in any society. Government spending on education in Australia reflects our priority of investing in the future of this country, allowing for economic advancement as well as productivity and social wellbeing for the individual and society as a whole. Given the importance of education in social and economic advancement, the student learning environment has become increasingly significant.
In an age where teaching practice and technology have changed and developed faster than ever before, the question of whether or not our learning environments are supporting or hindering our educational processes has never been more pertinent. While there have been changes to learning outcomes through updates to the syllabuses, technology has been driving more significant changes at a high rate.
The changes in technology have allowed for increased collaboration, personal learning, immediate feedback, teacher professional development, ease in communication and real time responses to local and systemic issues. These developments in technology not only broaden the scope of teaching methods in the classroom, but are also essential in preparing Australian youth for the jobs of the future. We are in a time where it is more important than ever to be equipping children with the technological abilities and higher-order thinking that will be essential for future occupations, keeping Australia economically competitive in a global market.
Excerpt from PWC. Available at: http://www.pwc.com.au/education/breaking-down-the-walls-2017.pdf
With over 125 years of teaching experience, Barker College has always been a dynamic and forward-thinking school (Barker College). NBRSARCHITECTURE worked together with Barker College to reinvent two 1970s built classrooms into “flexible, technologically enhanced learning spaces, known as the Imaginarium” (see PWC: Breaking Down The Walls, pg 10).
NBRSARCHITECTURE is experienced in transforming learning environments in order to reflect social and technological changes. In order to equip students with the skills and knowledge to participate in the constantly evolving professional landscape of the future, learning that places an emphasis on a multi-disciplinary approach and integration of cutting-edge technology should be prioritised.
This philosophy has been embodied in the Imaginarium, acknowledging the need for both formal and social learning in a flexible and adaptable environment. The heavy internal walls were removed to create a large open space ideal for numerous different teaching methods. External walls were replaced with glass, allowing for more light and improved ventilation, whilst also creating a link between the indoor and outdoor spaces.
An important feature of the Imaginarium was the adaptability of the furniture, allowing for various learning modes, including large group work, small group work, presentations and individual work. The impact of technology in today’s learning environment and its integration into the teaching process was also carefully considered. Cameras, microphones, speakers, touch screens and a permanent green screen wall are all aspects which reflect the need for education to remain relevant to the ever-changing technological landscape.