To accommodate this vision and reinforce NLL’s learning approach; a new spatial use model was developed. The ‘Plaza’ concept was devised with the Academy to provide a higher degree of collaboration between teachers and pupils through an IT rich, flexible environment that promotes and enables a variety of static and fluid learning settings to occur simultaneously within the physical fabric – from individual personalised learning, to group based activities and a whole plaza scenario of 120 pupils – whilst providing a safe and secure home base.
As a test bed, Gensler have designed a Plaza Prototype, on site, for 90 year 8 students (13 yrs). This conveys the key attributes of the space on one level utilising technology such as 360o projection and large display areas, biometric lighting techniques to control and vary the ambience of individual spaces, and flexible and adaptable furniture to allow a variety of work mode settings orientated around sizes of user groups and activities being undertaken.
Designed to impact both mood and behaviour, the prototype has already seen dramatic success with attendance levels up by 90%. Whilst different to the final design, it offers an opportunity for post occupancy evaluation from teachers, students and community members, prior to final construction.