Personalized Learning Space in a Global Context
Section 2
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Aerospace research laboratory, an emphasis on inter-connected spaces
The "Hangar," MIT's new aerospace lab, was mentioned in the March/April 2002 issue of School Construction News, with an emphasis on its capability for supporting unusually large aerospace projects. The project warrants revisiting, considering the excited response by CAE members after listening to a presentation by Professor Edward Crawley, MIT, and Steve Imrich, Cambridge Seven Associates. The qualities that impressed us were the careful study of various modalities of how individuals learn, and the variety of spatial connections put in place to support these modes. The ideas about learning that formed a basis for the design were described as follows:

Every student learns all the time
  - Learning occurs inside and
    outside of class; every setting a
    learning opportunity
Direct experience decisively
   shapes individual understanding
   - The brain's activity is in direct
      proportion to its engagement
      with stimulating environments
    - Concrete experiences solidify
       understanding of abstract
Individuals learn by establishing
   and reworking patterns,
   relationships, and connections
Change in the environment is

From these premises, the team developed an organizing model that included spaces to Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate (CDIO). Nearly all spaces are visually linked, even between different floor levels and different types of functional zones. For example, there are no walls separating the student project spaces from the central open stair - students, faculty and visitors circulating through the center can peek at projects, or engage students in discussion about their work. Note the connecting arrows in both the building section and floor plan - a tremendous emphasis was placed on personal, active connections between spaces. | June 2002 | Next >