Culture of Space

How can we integrate gathering dynamics, proxemics, and learner personas to reinvent learning spaces for better educational outcomes?

David A. Stubbs II
President, David Stubbs Design

Jill Ackers
Director of Education, VS America

The Interplay of Gathering, Proxemics, and Personas

This white paper explores the heart of space design, focusing on how it forms the way we come together and learn. Inspired by the insights and experiences of David A. Stubbs II and Jill Ackers, together, we offer an in-depth exploration of how gathering, proxemics, and personas interact intricately when learning happens. These elements of human spatial relationships and settings are crucial in crafting learning environments that are not just spaces, but dynamic settings where effective learning thrives.

Culture of Space Color.pngFigure 1. A graphic representation of the macro to micro interactions progressing from gathering to proxemics, to personas. Stubbs and Ackers, 2023.

The challenge: To explore and define how educational decision-makers, architects, and interior designers, and then all stakeholders involved in educational environments, can apply the principles of Culture of Space – encompassing gathering dynamics, proxemics, and personas – to transform traditional school designs into settings that are more inclusive, adaptable, and effective. These realigned environments enhance teaching and learning experiences significantly.

We propose a holistic approach to redesigning educational spaces, considering the complex interplay of human behaviors, spatial relationships, and the diverse needs of educators and learners. This challenge seeks to inspire a rethinking of how educational environments are designed, moving beyond the physical structures to consider how space influences and enhances teaching and learning.

At the heart of this exploration, Stubbs and Ackers illuminate how personas – representing diverse behavioral archetypes – along with the dynamics of gathering in various spaces, contribute significantly to the adaptability and inclusiveness of learning environments. These elements are integral to fostering spaces that intimately respond to the needs of all users. Additionally, it is important to understand how this new lens surrounding proxemics plays a central role in this framework by providing key insights into how spatial arrangements influence human behavior and interactions. By examining the diverse proxemic preferences across different cultures and organizations, this paper highlights the importance of designing spaces that are not only physically flexible but also culturally sensitive and inclusive.

Therefore, the concept of Culture of Space emerges as a comprehensive approach that encompasses the need for spaces to adapt not just to physical requirements, but also to diverse cultural and social dynamics of their users. This approach is particularly relevant in educational settings, where the creation of agile spaces can significantly enhance learning experiences, promote engagement, and foster creativity and collaboration.

Click here to download the full white paper.


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