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2013 IDEC Conference Proceedings

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Presentation SoDR Sustainability

The Interior Design Studio Experience: A Case Study of Occupancy Patterns and Satisfaction of the Design Studio

Lindsay Dixon & Jill Pable

Florida State University

In buildings where students have twenty-four hour access, the building systems must operate for maximum occupancy levels around the clock because the details of occupancy are currently unknown. Energy and money are wasted by operating these systems when it is not necessary to do so. By observing patterns of student occupancy and estimating when students are more likely to be in the building working, building operators may be able to adjust the lighting and HVAC systems to reduce wasted energy.

 Currently, there is limited research focusing on higher education design students and their study behaviors. This population may be unique among college students in that the nature of their projects might cause them to occupy their academic classrooms long after regular classes have concluded each day. Thus, their occupancy patterns may impact off-hour building use more significantly than other groups. There may be various physical and social reasons that motivate students to work in the building outside of class time, or dissuade them from doing so. Understanding more about the nature of these student motivations may help building operators to better estimate when a design studio building is likely to be occupied.

To further examine the behavior of this population, this thesis case study closely examined the occupancy habits of a selected group of interior design students enrolled in a studio course at a major university during the spring and summer semesters. In addition, satisfaction surveys and group interviews were conducted to better understand the studio dynamic including occupancy behaviors, motivations, and classroom satisfaction. Guerin’s Human Ecosystem Model served as a useful model to frame likely considerations for the perception and satisfaction of the built environment (1992). As part of the Guerin model, variables relating to the behavioral, physical and natural environments of the studio space were examined during the course of this case study.

Results of the study indicated a noticeable increase in student occupancy patterns relating to project deadlines. During the periods of low usage between project due dates, energy can be saved by adjusting building systems to run less frequently. There is a need for educators to communicate periods of expected high occupancy during non-business hours (near project deadlines) with building operators who can then program the building to run more efficiently and still meet the needs of the occupants during peak work times. Furthermore, results from surveys and interviews uncovered student motivations for working in their studio space and their satisfaction with the various characteristics of their classroom and building. These findings will prove useful to increase energy efficiency and student satisfaction of the studio building.

Future research in this area is required to verify the validity of the results of this thesis. By sharing this study model and findings, it is the hope of this author that other interior design programs will replicate this study and continue strengthen the body of knowledge in this area.

References (APA)

Guerin, D. A. (1992, June). Interior design research: A human eco-system model. Home Economics Research Journal, 20(4), 254-263.



Poster SoDR Sustainability

Adaptive Reuse of Old Factories: Challenges and Opportunities for Interior Designers through Sustainability

Elizabeth Dull & Doris Kincade

High Point University & Virginia Tech

While reduce, recycle, reuse, repurpose and even regift are often associated with being environmentally responsible, the idea of reusing, reinventing, or repurposing old buildings (i.e., adaptive reuse) still seems to be a job of last resort. Older buildings present challenges for reinventing spaces that are aesthetic, functional and legal. On the other hand, adaptive reuse can support sustainability through reinvigorating a community, providing good stewardship of resources, and maintaining a sense of continuity in the urban fabric. ”[A]daptive reuse can help restore the vibrant and lively activity of aging urban city neighborhoods and central business districts. Such development can make these places once again an exciting physical place for people … to live, work, and play” (Faircloth, Kaiser, & Steinmann, 2009, p. 41). Adaptive reuse, a major initiative of the 1970′s and early 1980′s (Harwood & Hing, 1987; Pettinari, 1980), deserves new consideration as an opportunity to further stretch the definition of sustainability. More recent research has focused on the structural analysis and other architectural aspects of reuse (Langston, Wong, Hui, & Shen, 2008) meanwhile challenges and opportunities still exist for interior designers to be leaders in this aspect of sustainability.

The purpose of this research is to examine abandoned factories that were successfully repurposed and given new life. With the continued shift of manufacturing to off-shore sources, numerous empty factories in many regions offer opportunities to ID professionals and students for experiences in sustainability. This study involves mixed-method research in a two-step exploration. Step one is a census process documenting the number and location of abandoned textile, apparel, and furniture factories in a selected geographic region. Step two is a case study examination of buildings identified as rescued and reclaimed for a variety of purposes. Documentation included interviews, site visits, and various print and internet sources. Triangulation of data, saturation of information and industry experience of researchers improved reliability and validity.

Using content analysis on the qualitative data, four major design themes emerged associated with the adaptive reuse of these factories: space planning appropriate for living/working environments, upgrade of interior systems, life/safety codes, and inclusive design criteria. In all cases, the role of the interior designer was multifaceted. Issues that at first glance might be conflicting (i.e. efforts to meet guidelines for sustainability vs. demands of customers) were satisfied through creative design solutions. This information could be an invaluable resource for interior design students and professionals interested in repurposing existing structures.

The study offers expanded ideas on sustainability for ways in which interior design education (student projects) and ID professionals may consider options for the built environment. For example, faculty at schools in regions where old factories or other abandoned buildings exist could challenge their students to seek adaptive reuse solutions for buildings while providing service learning and sustainability information to local businesses. Through extensive photographs, the poster’s focus is to highlight interior solutions of successful adaptive reuse projects and to engage viewers in discussion.


 References (APA)

Faircloth, S., Kaiser, B., & Steinmann, F. A. (2009). Residential adaptive reuse and in-fill development. Economic Development Journal, 8(2), 40-47.

Harwood, B. & Hing, A. (1987). Michael Graves’ Carlos Hall reviewed. Journal of Interior Design Education, 13(1), 37-44.

Langston, C., Wong, F. K. W., Hui, E. C. M, & Shen, L-Y. (2008). Strategic assessment of building adaptive reuse opportunities in Hong Kong. Building and Environment, 43, 1709-1718.

Pettinari, J. (1980). Adaptive reuse: A case study. Journal of Interior Design and Research, 6(2), 33-42.


Presentation SoDR Sustainability

Influence of Students’ Attitudes Towards and Knowledge of Sustainability in Selection of On-Campus Student Housing

Connie Dyar, Laura Fetsco, Hae Jin Gam & Yoon Jin Ma

Illinois State University

Sustainability is a word familiar among the general public as it is a growing trend in society. As interest in sustainability increases, society, specifically college and universities, are seeing an expansion in living, thinking and building sustainably. This growth in sustainable living has led to increased research of sustainable buildings. Particularly, research has largely begun to focus on sustainable design in college and university communities (Deninger, & Swift, 2009; Torres-Antonini, & Dunkel, 2009; Torres-Antonini, & Park, 2008; Torres-Antonini, & Park, 2010; Trinklein, 2009; Whiteman, 2009).

While previous studies have emphasized sustainable campus housing, there has been limited research in regards to the importance of students’ perspective on their housing. When considering university students, why might living in a sustainable environment be important? Is a college student part of the demand for sustainable on-campus student housing at universities? Specifically, does a college student’s attitude toward and knowledge of environmental sustainability impact their preference in there student housing choice? The purpose of this investigation was to attempt to answer these questions, using the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein,1980) as a foundation.

The theory of reasoned action (TRA) suggests an individual’s attitude and subjective norm create behavioral intentions (Fishbein & Azjen, 1975). For the purpose of this study TRA was utilized to address students’ attitudes toward environmental sustainability, and subjective norms of individual students to other students at their university, to influence intention to live in LEED certified housing, and in turn influencing their behavior of where they choose to live on-campus. Also, using the theory of reasoned action as a guide, this study merged attitude and subjective norm, together with knowledge to influence intention.

Participants included students living in four on-campus student housing units in two public universities across the United States: one in the Midwest and one in the West. Two housing units came from each university; one housing unit was the LEED certified, while the other was non LEED certified. There were 132 respondents in total. The survey consisted of five sections, adapted from the theory of reasoned action sample questionnaire (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).

                  Participants were sent a web based survey asking about the individual’s attitude towards sustainable living, their knowledge level on sustainability, their subjective norms in relation to other students at the university, as well as their previous intention to live in their dorms. Results have indicated that those students who were living in LEED certified housing, and were informed of their living arrangements, were more knowledgeable on the topic of sustainability. The study’s findings also indicated that a large amount of participants living in LEED certified housing were unaware that they were living in sustainable housing. These results could show that people can live sustainably in their daily lives without it ever being a hindrance. The findings may indicate that better marketing and awareness should be made around college and university campuses. With improved marketing of sustainable student housing the campus community may practice more sustainable behavior.


References (APA)

Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Deninger, L., & Swift, J. (2009). Integrated design: A sustainable mindset for residence halls. Journal of College & University Student Housing, 36(1), 48-71.

Fishbein, M. & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude, intention and behavior. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Torres-Antonini, M., & Park, N. (2008). Sustainable student campus housing in the U.S.  International Journal of Spatial Design and Research, 10(8), 29-38.

Torres-Antonini, M. & Vatralova, Z. (2012). Greener child care: Parents’ pro-environment values, beliefs, behaviors and knowledge and their childcare preferences. Journal of Interior Design, 37(2), 1-18.



Design Practice and Process Presentation SoDR

Space, Place, and Privacy: Preschool Children’s Secret Hiding Places

Kristi Gaines, Malinda J. Cowell, Michelle Pinson & Kimberly Corson

Texas Tech University


Westin (1967) and Altman (1975) have written extensively on privacy. Additionally, Edward Hall’s “Theories of Proximics” defines four basic zones of interpersonal distance: intimate, personal, social, and public. Children begin to develop body boundaries around age three or four. The idea that children have a world that they wish to keep separate from others is evident in studies on children’s sense of space and their child constructed play places. Corson and Colwell (2010) noted that children as young as three understand and can define the concept of secrecy and that they tend to associate secrets with secret hiding places. These places have relevance for young children’s peer relationships and social interactions.

The current study focused on preschoolers’ descriptions of what is important in a secret space, as well as the materials that are best for creating these spaces. The researchers examined the process preschoolers use to create their own spaces when provided with requested materials and observed interactions that occur within and around these spaces. Specific research questions included the following: What materials are important for preschoolers in the creation of secret places? How do preschoolers create a space when given a variety of materials? Do children work together in the creation of secret places or it is an individual activity? Are secret places secret for only one child at a time or can multiple children utilize and designate the space as secret?

Framework of Exploration

Specific Population: The participants for this study were 10 children between 3 and 5 years old and were recruited from a child development center. A grounded theory perspective was used in analyzing the actual planning and construction of these spaces and how they relate to peer relationships.


The study used an interpretive phenomenological, narrative approach as well as observational methodology.

(A)  Parents were asked to complete a consent form and family demographic form.

(B)  Semi-structured interviews took place in the child’s classroom. A second investigator operated a video camera in order to record the children’s narratives. The PI asked the children to describe the types of places that are secret hiding places for them. They were invited to draw examples. They were also asked what they would need to create their secret places.

(C)  The children were provided with these materials the following day to create their own secret places in the classroom.


Initially, the children selected objects individually but soon divided into three groups to create their distinctively different secret places. A collaborative effort was put forth on how children in this sample shared these spaces. Some of the materials illustrated in their pictures were not utilized although provided. Often, the spaces were separated by only an invisible barrier created by the child. The results from this study have implications for studying preschool children’s hiding places in terms of socio-emotional development. This boundary setting resonates with Hart’s (1979) assertion that children like to separate themselves from the adult world.

 References (APA)

Altman, I. (1975). The environment and social behavior: Privacy, personal space, territoriality and crowding. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Corson, K.Y., & Colwell, M. J. (2010).  Whispers in the ear:  Preschool children’s conceptualization of secrets and confidants. Unpublished manuscript.

Hart, R. (1979).  Children’s experience of place. New York:  Irvington.

Smith, J. A., & Osborn, M.  (2003).  Interpretive phenomenological analysis.  In J. Smith (Ed.), Qualitative psychology:  A practical guide to research methods (pp. 51-80).  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Weston, A.F. (1967). Privacy and freedom. New York: Antheneum


History and Theory Presentation SoDR

Experiential Interiors: Feeling Space

Tamie Glass

University of Texas at Austin


Besides providing shelter from the elements, the built environment has the ability to inspire, to heal, and to restore. Spaces that engage users’ senses can improve and enhance their conditions and shape their moods and emotional state. This presentation is the second in a series which explores and examines existing buildings, interior spaces, installations, and exhibits based on one of the traditional five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, as originally classified by Aristotle. Previous studies of sensory design by Juhani Pallasmaa and Joy Monice Malnar have explored theoretical and philosophical backgrounds and concepts; and although critical to understanding the context of this complex subject, they reveal little about their actual real-world application in the realm of contemporary interior design.

Fine Vs. Crude

Although often simply described as one of the five traditional senses, the familiar term of touch is complex and dependent on more than one sensory modality to form an impression. Two broad categorizations of touch, fine and crude, highlight differences critical to understanding this sense and how it relates to the design of physical environments. Fine touch is characterized as being discriminating. It is localized and refined with tactile information that provides an awareness of three-dimensional qualities. Crude touch, as the descriptor indicates, is the opposite. It is non-discriminative and not able to be localized. Tactile information is not refined and does not enable three-dimensional recognition but may offer a feeling. The resulting experiences fall at opposite ends of the spectrum. An end user may engage with the tactile elements in a space by actively or passively applying pressure and movement through the act of “touching”. On the other hand, an end user’s skin or body may literally “feel” space, which may be the perception afforded by temperature or vibration.

Case Studies

This presentation explores the sense of touch and examines how designers have used touch as an integral design element to create evocative spaces that extend beyond function and visual appeal to engage the senses. By analyzing case studies of built work, a variety of examples of fine and crude touch will be explored. Localized touch will be discussed in relation to haptic experiences, which instruct, guide, and inform end users through active exploration employing both cutaneous and kinesthetic capabilities. Additional examples will demonstrate the effects that touch may passively have on spaces by looking at traces of human interaction on the environment and how designers may make thoughtful material selections that intentionally pronounce this reaction. Finally, selected case studies will bring awareness to physical environments that engage users in a less discriminating fashion dependent on contrasts in stimuli to create an overall bodily sensation.


As a sampling, realized projects will illustrate that a relationship between today’s built environment and a deeper understanding of human nature does exist. They will demonstrate how designers can incorporate sensory enhancing aspects related to touch to further engage users, encouraging them to feel as an integral way of experiencing an interior space.

References (MLA)

Malnar, Joy Monice, and Frank Vodvarka. Sensory Design. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2004. Print.

Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. Chichester: Wiley-Academy, 2008. Print.

Richardson, Marion. The Sense of Touch: Part 2 – Perception of Touch.” Nursing Times 104.6 (2008): 26-27. Web. 19 Sept. 2012.”

Van Kreij, Kamiel. Sensory Intensification in Architecture. Rep. Delft: Technical University Delft, 2008. 62-3. Print.

Zumthor, Peter. Atmospheres: Architectural Environments, Surrounding Objects. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2006. Print.




Presentation SoDR Sustainability

Design for Sustainable Behavioral in the Built Environment

Danya Hakky & Lisa Tucker

Virginia Tech

Environmental efforts in the building industry have been primarily focused on better ways of supplying materials and efficient ways of disposing of them. Although these efforts are immensely valuable, some argue they should be complimented by efforts to reduce energy loss during a building’s use phase (Wever, Kuijk, & Boks, 2008) (T. Tang & Bhamra, 2008). Numerous researches have pointed out that even though a building may be built with high energy efficiency in mind, what makes or breaks those savings being made is user behavior, i.e. how people use the building (Paul Torcellini & Pless, 2011). Product designers have noticed the role users play in their products meeting their efficiency potentials and have therefore dedicated research to investigate this further. In an area recently termed; “DfSB: Design for Sustainable Behavior” (Debra Lilley & Lofthouse, 2009) designers are looking at ways to influence consumer behavior through the designs of products they provide.

In the literature, there are many studies that address helping users make better environmental choices through product design. This ongoing research’s goal is to use methods of product design in interiors to encourage sustainable behavior. Therefore, the study began by surveying the literature and picking up on design ideas and concepts that were repeated amongst authors under various titles. A tentative compilation of these thoughts was then initiated in order to test their potential applicability in interiors. Some of the theories identified included efforts by Lilley, Fogg, Tang, Verbeek and others. The concepts comprised technological and design interventions with psychological and human behavioral considerations inherent in both. When a general compilation was formed, the study layered and combined two of these concepts that complement each other, namely; Lilley, et. al’s Design Intervention with Verbeek, et al.’s Levels of Influence.

Based on this compilation of ideas, a couple of pilot studies were conducted to sense the general acceptance of the concepts suggested in product design and their applicability in interior design. Those studies were comprised of questionnaires filled out by undergraduate and graduate students. As it is important for the practical success of this study that professionals involved in design are interested in its conclusions, the third pilot study looked for their input. Interviews were carried out with faculty, architects and designers in architecture companies that have committed to the 2030 challenge. The questions covered three main issues; a. whether they thought the built environment could help influence sustainable behavior, b. what interventions could help do so, c. what this research needed for it to be applicable. Preliminary results showed all respondents agreed the built environment could influence behavior, the most popular approaches were “invisibly regulate choices through design interventions” and “providing the user with a sense of ownership over space.” Most professionals felt the research had to demonstrate quantifiable results for it to be adopted.

Results from these pilot studies will be used in further stages of this multi-disciplinary research to test design’s ability in increasing a sustainable behavior in the built environment.

References (APA)

Debra Lilley, & Lofthouse, V. (2009). Sustainable design education – considering design for behavioural change. Engineering Education, 4(1), 29 – 41.

Paul Torcellini, & Pless, S. (2011). Zero and Net-Zero Energy Buildings + Homes. Builfing Design + Construction

T. Tang, & Bhamra, T. A. (2008). Changing Energy Consumption Behaviour Through Sustainable Product Design. Paper presented at the Internation Design Conference- Design 2008, Dubrovnik- Croatia.

Wever, R., Kuijk, J. v., & Boks, C. (2008). Sustainable Use: Changing consumer behaviour through product design. International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 1(1), 9-20.



Design Practice Poster SoDR

Symbiosis Between Stress and Privacy: Impacts on Patients’ Well-being

Rehab Aburas

Texas Tech University


According to Stewart-Pollack and Menconi (2005) healthcare environment design rarely addresses the concept of privacy or its therapeutic impact. However, the discovery that stress can suppress the immune system and effect recovery has created an interest in how privacy functions to reduce stress. Patients who are treated by chemo and radiation therapy suffer from inhibited immune system. Different design issues in Southwest Cancer Centerinclude: noise, and lack of privacy in different parts of the center and low level of lighting can cause stress, anxiety and weakened the patients’ immune systems.Internal factors such as stress have been implicated in causing a deficient immune system because of the nature of the body’s response in dealing with this problem (Beaton, 2003). The purpose of this paper is to investigate different design solutions to solve the privacy and stress related issues to help patients to feel better.


The research design was based on a qualitative investigation using a grounded theory approach involving evidence based design including an interview with the coordinator of the SWCC center , and observation. Also, a literature review was conducted in order to highlight the environmental design issues and its solutions. Southwest Cancer Center was the target sample. Data were analyzed using two approaches: 1)analysis and critique of the SWCC to highlight design deficiencies as related to privacy and 2) open coding of the literature review (Strauss& Corbin, 1990), which consisted of breaking down, conceptualizing, and reconstructing data in new ways and underscoring redundant themes.


There are different design solutions that can be applied in order to improve the SWCC environment such as giving the patient a choice concerning their individual level of privacy, especially when the chemo-treatment typically involves being connected to an IV for 90 minutes (Better healthcare design, 2009). Also, Access to nature and other positive distractions in one’s physical surroundings can reduce stress, create psychologically supportive healthcare environments, and support the patient’s ability to deal with illness (Pollack &Menconi, 2005).

Daykin, Byrne, Soteriou and O’Connor, (2010) redesign the Mental Health NHS Trust in England and one of the study suggestion was adding visual art to the healthcare environment as a solution to solve privacy issues. Daykin,et al mentioned that particular issue for service users and staff was privacy; the newenvironment was seen by some service users as offering more privacy than the old one (2010). Other factors and elements can be added through design to enhance a positive attitude and support the patient’s immune system, such as exposure to sunlight. According to Rod Von Essen (2010), vitamin D is critical to T cell function. Without sufficient sources of this vitamin in the blood, the cells will be incapable of ‘activating’ to fight foreign pathogens. More exposure to day lighting is an essential solution for improving the patient’s immune system and reducing stress.Also, associate some colors in design will evoke the healing power and reduce stress. For example, yellows and gold heal stress and worry and blacks and deep purples heal fear and depression (White, 2005).


References (APA)

Daykin, N., Byrne, E., Soteriou, T., & O’Connor, S. (2010). Using arts to enhance mental healthcare environments: Findings from qualitative research.Arts & Health: International Journal for Research, Policy & Practice, 2(1), 33-46. doi:10.1080/175

Rode von Essen, M (2010).More Sun Means a Better Immune System. University of Copenhagen, Retrieved from

Stewart-Pollack ,J.&Menconi, R.(2005). Designing for Privacy and Related Needs. New York, NY. Fairchild Publications, Inc.

Beaton, David B (2003). Effects of Stress and Psychological Disorders on the Immune System. Rochester Institute of Technology.

Better healthcare design (2009). Chemotherapy. Retrieved from


Design Practice and Process Presentation SoDR

Programming: A Community Engagement Model

Travis Hicks & Stephanie Sickler

University of North Carolina at Greensboro & University of Alabama

The programming phase of the design process is understood as the intense investigation of a client’s needs, goals, and existing conditions (Rengel, 2003). Although this phase includes analytical techniques, there is a tendency towards one-sided analyses. Either the designer elicits responses to pre-determined questions from the client, or the client hands the designer a set of standards, guidelines, or sometimes even a previous programming document from another designer. What’s missing in this discussion?


The programming phase sets the tone for a design project. While much has been said about other phases of the design process (Poldma, 2009), the programming phase has gone too long unexamined. The standard techniques used in programming, such as client interviews, existing space documentation and analysis, or surveys, tell a certain portion of the story; however, more can be gained during the programming phase by introducing a more collaborative, engaged model into this phase. This study aims to establish a dialogical model for programming based around community engagement by examining case studies from two different universities in different states.


As academicians become more open to community engagement, i.e. extending one’s work beyond the campus and into the community, there is the familiarity of designer-client relationships in working with people outside the university. One distinguishing attribute of this community engaged approach, however, is that the client or user becomes a collaborator in the process, not merely a bystander nor a research subject. Design students who are exposed to new programming techniques around engagement will enhance their future practices and change the shape of the design profession.


At two different universities faculty and students are engaging user groups and community partners by utilizing techniques that are dialogical. Methods used to engage community groups are inspired by the work of product design firm IDEO, among other sources. These methods resemble focus group sessions at times, with interactivity a key differentiator in these sessions. Three different case studies, each involving a studio assignment that engaged a community organization or group, are examined.

At one university there is a rich history of community-engaged design work. The case study from this university is a multi-year, multi-phase research and teaching project with a local public library system. Engaged programming strategies have included focus groups of different age groups, dialogues with library staff, and the library staff’s collaboration in design reviews. At the second university community-engaged design work is contained in single semester experiences connecting studio courses with community charity organizations and government sponsored programs. Engagement strategies include site visits, interaction with the residents in planned service activities, dialog with the facility staff, and collaboration with the design teams.


Preliminary outcomes of these community-engaged courses suggest that students are excited by community engagement that develops interpersonal skills otherwise not established by more traditional programming pedagogies. Courses dealing with programming should have a higher level of engagement with “clients” in which these groups should not be talked “at” but instead collaborated “with,” resulting in higher quality programming and, by extension, practice.

References (MLA)

Rengel, Roberto. Shaping Interior Space. New York: Fairchild Publications, Inc., 2003.  Print.

Poldma, Tiiu.  Taking Up Space: Exploring the Design Process.  New York: Fairchild Publications, Inc., 2009.  Print.

Pressman, Andrew.  Designing Architecture: The Elements of Process.  New York: Routledge, 2012.  Print.



Design Practice Poster SoDR

Physical and Psychosocial Factors in Classroom Design for Elementary Level Schools

Rehab Aburas, Christy Gaines & Su-jeong Shin

Texas Tech University


There are different factors impacting classroom design including physical factors such as ergonomics, furniture arrangement, indoor air quality, lighting, materials and finishes and sound. Also, psychosocial factors such as personal space, crowding, privacy, and territoriality have an influence on the learning spaces (Kopec, 2006). The growth in technology, social networks and media, as well as different teaching and learning methods, require dynamic teaching spaces which changed the way of designing classrooms. Kuuskorpi, Kaarina, Finland & González. (2011) found that students’ perceived the traditional classroom as a passive area, which slowed down the full use of space. These changes in the in students’ needs require changes in the classroom environment. Therefore, the present report examines the effects of the physical and psychosocial factors in designing elementary classroom. Based on the recommendations and guidelines from the literature review, the report suggests a prototype for elementary classrooms, the new design provides a flexible multi-purpose environment that can be used for a variety of learning activities such as collaboration and workshops.


A literature review was conducted in order to highlight the effects of physical and psychosocial factors on learning environments including classrooms. The review was analyzed using two approaches: 1) analyzing the information related to classroom environment and, 2) coding data by the type of physical and psychosocial aspects related to the learning environment. Based on the design recommendations from the literature review, two classroom design prototypes were created; one for learning activities including reading, discussions, and collaboration and another for visual art activities.


The unique aspect of classroom function is that these environments serve two users: it is a place for student’s to participate in learning activities, and at the same time, a place where an adult teacher must be in control and authority while providing the course information (Kopec, 2012). According to Kollie, classrooms should support easy transitions to different learning modes, offer several areas for different activities and support the constructivist pedagogy by its five phases: engage, explore, explain, evaluate and extend (Kollie, 2010). In recent years, there were significant social and cultural changes caused by the unique advances in communication and information technologies, as well as the introduction of the internet to school environment. These factors have incorporated in shaping teaching and creating shifts in users’ expectations of the physical learning environment (Kuuskorpi et al., 2011). Brook (2009) mentioned in her explanations of the requirement for the 21st century classrooms that for such learning environments, designers need to consider the student at the heart of the design. Additionally, the principles of design must be considered for the best learning outcomes, and the necessity of providing environments equipped with rich ICT resources (Brook, 2009). Moreover, schools should provide spaces that improve interaction, participation in social networks, and control over the time (Conners, 2001). Finally, it will be beneficial to provide educational planners and designers with updated guidelines to create the proper environment for variety of students’ and instructors’ needs.


References (APA)

Brook, Diane (2009). Designing Learning Spaces for 21st Century Learners. University of Oregon. Retrieved 2010 from                   <a href="…>

Conners, D. A. (1983). The School Environment: A Link to Understanding Stress. Theory Into  Practice, 22(1), 15.

Kollie, Ellen (2010). Classrooms Designed for Higher Performance. Peter Li, Inc. Retrieved from

Kopec, D. (2012). Environmental psychology for design (2nd ed). New York: Conde Nast  Publication.

Kuuskorpi, M., & González, N. (2011). The future of the physical learning environment: school facilities that support the user. CELE Exchange. Centre For Effective Learning Environments, 2011(9-12), 1-7.