How Landscape Architecture Impacts Education

October 19, 2023

Educational practices continually evolve as we uncover more about how we learn best, the diversity of learning styles, and how the physical environment facilitates effective learning.

We're learning more and more that our environment impacts us in many ways, including our ability to learn.

Much of our formative years are spent in school and university settings. Using our understanding of landscape architecture to transform educational spaces into vibrant, inspiring, and interactive environments that help foster growth and knowledge and enhance the student learning experience is an exciting prospect for us.

The evolution of educational environments

Over the years, the concept of educational environments has undergone a remarkable transformation. From traditional settings with rows of desks and a grass playing field, we have progressed into dynamic spaces emphasising experiential learning, collaborative engagement and development.

At the heart of this evolution lies the integration of landscape architecture.

Landscape architecture has revolutionised educational spaces, bringing nature's tranquillity and beauty into the learning journey. Studies have shown that greenery and well-designed outdoor areas profoundly impact students' mental and emotional well-being, enhancing focus, reducing stress, and boosting creativity.

It's not just about designing spaces; it's about sculpting experiences that facilitate learning in its truest sense.

The benefits of landscape architecture in education

Enhanced learning experience

Immerse a student in an environment surrounded by densely planted gardens, open courtyards, and inspiring sculptures, and you can see their curiosity come alive. Landscape architecture nurtures a sense of wonder and exploration, creating a dynamic backdrop for engaging educational activities.

Promotion of physical activity

Incorporating outdoor spaces encourages movement and physical activity, contributing to students' physical health and supporting cognitive development and concentration.

Cultivation of community

Collaborative spaces designed by landscape architects become natural hubs for interaction and communication. Whether it's a gathering spot for discussions or a cosy nook for group projects, these spaces foster a sense of belonging and social cohesion among students.

Connection with nature

In a time dominated by screens, landscape architecture reminds us of the beauty of the natural world. This connection stimulates ecological awareness, encouraging students to become responsible stewards of the environment.

Shaping educational environments for the future

PLAN E has been at the forefront of this exciting transformation, crafting educational landscapes that inspire, engage, and elevate. Our journey of impact is evident in projects across Perth's educational institutions.

“The most successful results are where there is a strong synergy and alignment on the vision for the project between the client, stakeholders and the consultant team, and a collaborative process delivers the vision in well considered and well resolved result. The architecture, landscape and art should integrate seamlessly to create a well-integrated, dynamic and engaging environment that is both robust and user focussed, and promotes inclusivity and sense of community.” John Tuzee

Edith Cowan University (ECU), WA

At ECU, we have reimagined outdoor spaces as extensions of the lecture theatres and other communal facilities to create diverse places for learning, gathering and socialising. This work includes six Reconciliation Action Plan projects, 5 at ECU's Joondalup campus and 1 at the Bunbury campus, where we worked closely with the indigenous staff of ECU's Kurongkurl Katitjin Centre (Indigenous Australian Education & Research) and elders such as Noel Nannup, who identified 5 main themes to be developed in celebrating reconciliation:

  • Welcome
  • Natural Elements
  • Education
  • Language
  • Health and Wellness

They also identified the locations and educational narratives of the RAP landscapes. These included Indigenous Australian history, indigenous knowledge of flora and fauna, and to create a collaboration with the broader indigenous communities and language groups within WA’s South-west. The landscape designs incorporate thematics that can be translatable to all fourteen (14) Noongar language groups of WA’s South West region.

Butler College, Butler, WA

This large secondary education campus required strong definition of circulation and spatial hierarchy to accommodate diverse student groups and needs. The design features a central spine to define the major circulation route in a bold way, through the use of geometric paving patterns and avenues of deciduous trees to reinforce the distinctive contemporary architecture. Flexible play spaces, shaded study areas, diverse and varied seating opportunities and a chill-out space have created a dynamic, stimulating hub of exploration and growth.

St John's Primary School, Scarborough, WA

At St John's Primary School, we took a multi-levelled, unusable, and uninviting space and designed a sensory-rich environment that embraced the uneven ground to create climbing, exploration and activity areas. The play areas cater to diverse learning styles and user abilities, fostering inclusivity, community spirit and a deeper understanding of the natural and physical world.

Banksia Court, Murdoch University, WA

The redevelopment of Banksia Court at Murdoch University exemplifies the integration of sustainable design principles, retention of a significant stands of Marri and Banksia trees driving the design. The banksia became the thematic element of the space, informing public art and the planting palette to showcase this unique species. A path network and elevated boardwalk meanders sensitively through the retained bush linking seating and activity nodes to create a holistic educational experience.

In an ever-evolving educational environment, landscape architecture has the ability to bridge the past and the future, connecting tradition with innovation. As PLAN E Landscape Architects continues to shape the narrative of education through landscape design, each space we craft has the potential to be a canvas for inspiration, a haven for growth, and a catalyst for positive change.

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