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Climate change adaptation

Smart cities


Outdoor Education – Creating a new user culture for social sustainability

30. October 2017

Solution provider


arki_lab is a young, Copenhagen-based urban design studio that was founded upon the strong ideological principle of getting closer to people through our efforts to create better cities.

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New needs for education methods
The rapid change in our social, environmental and technological conditions demand us to question every aspect of our lives, including our learning and teaching methods. Traditional education practices are no longer sufficient in responding to younger generations' needs and interests. Therefore in the recent years, alternative methods have arisen in the education field. In our recent project in Nørrebro, we tested out various outdoor learning conditions together with students and teachers from local schools.

This project
In this project, we examine the relationship between design and education by investigating in which way different spatial designs might support outdoor education. Through workshops, excursions and prototyping students were encouraged to rethink their learning environments and imagine different outdoor classroom scenarios. Since education is a two-way street, teachers were invited to further review and input different ideas for outdoor learning.

Creating a new culture
One significant finding during our project was that when people were asked to imagine an outdoor teaching situation in most cases they simply reiterated the traditional classroom setup with blackboard, chairs and tables, simply moving the furniture outside. This illustrates that spatial design constitutes for more than building a new construction but it absolutely has to engage the users in order to create a new culture of use together. Rethinking traditional education methods not only requires us to create new design solutions but also challenges existing user behaviours. We questioned how spatial design could influence a more sustainable society by creating a new user culture, adapting easily to new conditions.

Urban design today has to be able to adapt to changing circumstances over time, both responding to the rapidly changing context and emerging new user cultures. We can create resilient societies and cities through a continuous rethinking of our surroundings, ranging from public spaces to classrooms.