This research and prototyping project developed a framework and supporting resource materials with the aim of extending the effective learning area of existing and proposed schools. The team at HERE+NOW worked closely with client Architecture + Design Scotland to explore what makes a ‘setting for learning’, whether that be inside or outside of the school building. 

The resulting study was based on a review of current practice and literature, briefing and workshop meetings with stakeholders and interest groups, and active participation by users, to create innovative approaches to extending learning environments.   The project's outcomes included: 

  • Identification of the settings and strategies needed for effective outdoor learning.
  • Make connections between the participation and the design briefing stages. 
  • Identify and communicate a sequence of activities for engaging people in the design and enhancement of outdoor settings for learning.
  • The development of a decision making framework.


In Scotland, the quality of learning experiences is understood against the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence; confident individuals, effective contributors, responsible citizens, and successful learners.  Each of these can be positively addressed in different, innovative, meaningful ways by engaging with the outdoor resource.  People behave differently outside; and the advantages of taking learning outside are extensive. It's also a key philosophy of all our work at HERE+NOW.  Outside, there is a different context within which to make and express; there is a different need for stewardship and care. Being outdoors has the potential to enhance a range of learning and personal development experiences.  Introducing these as positive attributes which can fundamentally be done differently in the outside setting, and using these four outcomes to categorise the pattern language.

HERE+NOW developed a number of decision making tools which can be used by groups of any size at any stage in a project to use the outdoor setting as a place for learning. 

To test these tools and explore the potential of the resources to re-imagine existing outdoor spaces we ran a 2 day workshop with a group of 10 landscape architecture students at ESALA. Based on the Design Thinking model, we encouraged the students to empathise with the end user by adopting different personas, seeing the places from a new perspective.  At the end students presented back findings to a panel including representatives from A+DS.  It was great to hear the students' feedback on the prototype material and their visualisations for the tools in action! 



Take a look at other examples of our work and projects.