Architectural design and its importance in building successful learning spaces

How vital is architectural design in building successful learning spaces? Architectural design covers various aspects when it comes to developing learning environments. Most of these can impact student learning in one way or another. In this blog we cover the importance of architectural design in learning success.

What is architectural design?

Architectural design plans

Architectural design involves designing structures and buildings using artistic and technological design concepts. Successful architectural design will create aesthetic and comfortable environments, which, in the case of schools, can boost learning success.

Several aspects must be incorporated into an architectural design, including the different spaces’ shapes, dimensions, and positioning. Combining all these aspects successfully through the creative process results in an integrated design.

Successful architectural design will also conduct an analysis beforehand, such as a site analysis to examine the environment. The basic rules of construction, aesthetic and technology characteristics and the needs and resources of the client also need to be considered.

There are many different styles of architectural design:

  • Classical
  • Gothic
  • Victorian
  • Modern
  • Postmodern
  • Neo-futuristic

The significant differences between architectural design and architecture are the processes involved. Architectural design is the creative design process of drawing and crafting structures. Architecture is the process of transforming such designs through the construction process.

There are several reasons for the importance of architectural design in learning. These are creating a positive effect on the environment, creating aesthetically appealing designs, and understanding that building design can impact people’s mindsets, feelings, and moods. This is reflected in school architectural design.

What is the importance of architectural design in learning?

A modern school learning environment

Modern learning spaces are characterised by three elements: technology, pedagogy, and space. All three elements must work cohesively to ensure a modern learning space that provides learning success. Modern learning spaces play a crucial role in learning success, as they:

  • Boost motivation for independent study and encourage continual improvement.
  • Helps to develop important life skills that are needed for work and life.
  • Improves the learning standards and behaviour.
  • Improved efficiency across the school.
  • Encourages relevant and purposeful activities that improves engagement.
  • Offers a competitive advantage.
  • Professional development for staff.

The importance of architectural design in the space element helps in crafting effective modern learning spaces. Interior design and the fixtures, fittings, and equipment will also be crucial in the space element.

Without proper attention to the space element of modern learning spaces, constrained activity can become a problem. Constrained activity can arise from several situations, including the traditional front-facing classroom design. Discover how rethinking learning spaces improves learning.

Constrained activity in learning spaces can lead to several setbacks or problems with teaching and learning. Collaboration, student engagement, active learning, and independent study can all suffer due to constrained activity in a learning environment.

Architectural design must focus on the school interior as much as the exterior. Classroom design is crucial for creating a positive learning experience. Such positive experiences will affect how students learn and interact with their environment and teacher.

However, the most significant importance of architectural design for learning is creating a sense of community. A strong sense of community will create a positive relationship between students and teachers. As a result, student interaction increases and can contribute to improved independent learning.

A modern learning environment

How architectural design impacts learning success

Architectural design can significantly impact learning success. Investing in a good design for school buildings can lead to better outcomes and success. To achieve this, a school’s architectural design must provide a comfortable and responsive environment that encourages social interaction.

To ensure an architectural design contributes to learning success, several principles or features need to be incorporated:

  • How well the design and building engage with the environment.
  • Supports the community.
  • Encourages flexible teaching and learning.
  • Provides physical and environmental comfort.
  • Use of colours.
  • Technological network.
  • Open and transparent interiors.

One of the most significant factors that need to be successfully incorporated into a school’s architectural design is the environment of the indoor space. In particular, the lighting, air quality, and acoustics can also improve learning success.


Environmental factors in an architectural design help improve student well-being and positive learning outcomes. Many features should be considered in an architectural design to enhance learning success.

Lighting has one of the most significant impacts on student success. Incorporating natural light into a learning space makes it easier to see and significantly impacts student performance. Exposure to natural light also increases alertness and academic success.

Research studies have indicated that incorporating natural light into an architectural or classroom design improves learning outcomes and results. Learning spaces with a high daylight level can improve learning by up to 20%.

Air quality

Air quality and ventilation is another environmental factor that needs to be considered in architectural designs. The learning spaces’ air quality affects concentration, learning performance, and student well-being.

Given the periods students will be in a particular learning environment, sufficient ventilation must be in place to ensure a healthy indoor air quality index. The air quality index refers to the air quality using a scale of 1 (for low air quality) to 10 (for high air quality).


Architectural designs should also pay attention to the temperature of learning spaces, as this, too, can affect learning. Research has found that for each school year that was hotter by 1°F (0.56°C), a 1% loss of a year’s learning occurs.

A learning space that is too hot or too cold can significantly impact our concentration and learning ability. A controlled room temperature of around 21°C (or 69.8°F) can improve learning and results positively. A learning space should preferably be between 21°C and 25°C for the best outcome.

Learning spaces that are too cold detract the brain from concentrating effectively. Conversely, learning spaces too hot make students feel sleepy and tired as the body tries to keep itself cool. Maintaining an optimum temperature improves focus and concentration.

Space and comfort

Architectural design should also prioritise space and comfort in building successful learning spaces. Student learning considerably improves when students have a comfortable learning environment. Learning spaces should be places people want to learn in, meaning comfort is a necessity.

One of the most significant factors of this is seating arrangements. Poor seating arrangements considerably impact concentration, attention span, comprehension, and cognition. It also discourages active learning.

Another factor in ensuring students are physically comfortable is spacious learning spaces. Architectural designs should ensure that learning spaces don’t feel cramped or claustrophobic.

Not only does the layout and FFE play a role in the space, but also the size of the space. Smaller learning spaces that feel closed in or cut off will significantly impact student learning. Open and transparent spaces are much more beneficial to student learning.


School environments and learning spaces can be noisy, affecting student learning and concentration. Outside or inside the classroom, noise is an unwanted distraction that makes it difficult for students to focus.

The acoustics and sound should also be considered for building successful learning spaces in architectural design. Sufficient soundproofing or buffering should be regarded to reduce the noise levels that can distract learning.

Busier informal learning spaces may benefit most from incorporating sound absorption into the learning space to reduce noise levels. Such spaces are essential for independent, active learning or to provide respite from the day’s learning.

Architectural design in schools plays a significant role in providing the atmosphere and environment in which students can thrive best. Successful designs will improve concentration and motivation, encourage engagement, and boost results. A successful architectural design is critical to learning success.