Professor Alan Jones

A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece of work that should be a valuable resource for designers, educationalists and teachers. Going way beyond the all too often employed limited and flawed sole emphasis on classroom and room sizes driving school design, this book effectively and earnestly makes the case for improving the learning environment for children in both meaningful and practical ways. A welcome and timely addition to the subject of school design at a time of great change.

Director of Professional Practice, Queen’s University Belfast

Founder of Alan Jones Architects

President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, September 2019 – 21


Andreas Schleicher

Our schools today will be our society and economy tomorrow, so our children deserve not just the best teachers, but also the spaces that are most conducive to innovative and effective learning environments.

This volume shows how we can design, build and use learning spaces in ways that support the kind of instructional practice needed to prepare young people for their future, rather than our past. Its comprehensive but also very practical approach, looking at learning from early childhood through the end of schooling and at both academic and applied learning, makes it a unique resource for anyone involved in building the infrastructure for twenty first century learning.

It is in our hands to ensure that it is the school rather than the shopping centre where young people feel welcome.

Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills,


Professor Stephen Heppell

Planning Learning Spaces builds a bridge from the simple to the extraordinary. Simple details in the design of learning spaces will produce real, and often unexpected, improvements in learning. But, as with the aggregation of marginal gains in sport, those many simple details together can produce frankly extraordinary gains. 

Embarking along a pathway towards better learning, students, teachers, leaders and others often wonder to themselves just how good might learners be, when the details are right? The answer is calibrated by those extraordinary gains.

We now know so much about the way our brains learn, or the way that others’ innovations have worked, or about learners’ own effective designs worldwide. It is perhaps shameful that so little of this shared evidence had properly impacted on the design of learning spaces in the past.

Three things have changed everything: the channels to communicate new and effective ideas or designs are many and are open. Pinterest, Twitter and other social media are awash with the bright-eyed excitement of “look at our new library”, “meet our plant wall” or “read this book”.

Secondly, where a decade ago we were asking of technology “what can you do that helps?“, now technology is asking of us “what would you like to do now that anything is possible?”, and it turns out that many of us are ambitious for what that contribution might be.

Finally, the best news of all:  although making learning better requires attention to very many small details, none of those details are particularly complex, or expensive.

This book, Planning Learning Spaces is awash in opportunity and inspiration – but the meta-message is: you can jump aboard this bottom-up revolution, together with your learners, and you can do this.

Felipe Segovia Chair in Learning Innovation at Universidad Camilo José Cela, Madrid.


Michael B Horn

Any community building a new school should read this book. Offering a very helpful framework of questions to guide communities towards creating better school designs, Planning Learning Spaces is both practical and visionary.

It can open eyes to the powerful impact school design has on learning, and the potential school design has to usher in an era where schools allow all students to build their passions and fulfil their human potential.

Co-Founder and Distinguished Fellow of Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.


Tony Wagner

A fabulous resource. Very comprehensive and beautifully illustrated.

Senior Research Fellow, Learning Policy Institute. Former Expert in Residence, Harvard University Innovation Lab.






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