Hollis + Miller Architects' ‘Learnscape' gives learning a whole new meaning

Posted at 2:33 PM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 10:00:34-04

Learning beyond the classroom is something the organization, Hollis + Miller Architects, wants to build…literally.

In just two days, the Hickman Mills C-1 School District will be getting a new outdoor learning space, called ‘Learnscape.’

“We came up with this idea of ‘Learnscape’ - an outdoor classroom because students like fresh air and like natural light. But at the same time we want them to learn,” Hollis + Miller partner, John Brown said.

It’s an idea the organization thought about a few years ago.

“As leadership came together and talked about how we can get back together with our community that we serve. And since we're 100 percent education, we serve our education clients,” Brown said. “And we wanted to do something a little bit different than an indoor space that we do all day.”

Hollis + Miller Architects project leader, Daniel Cooper, says each student learns in many different ways and wanted to be able to design a common space for all learners.

“From very active learners to very formal, educating all kinds of learners so an outdoor environment like this is able to serve all those different types of learners,” Cooper said.

Since 2013, Hollis + Miller awarded different school districts with these Learnscapes.

“Each year, our leadership team gets together and we discuss our clients that we’re working with currently and we discuss the needs of the clients, what projects we may be doing with those clients and where do we believe that client that could really use this type of space,” Brown said. “We go through and just discuss as a large group about the different clients and what's going on.”

Brown says the leadership group then nominates different school districts or higher education institutes and from that nomination, they decide which school would get the Learnscape, building it in just 48 hours.

"We've been working on this for probably four or five months,” Brown said on designing and planning. “The build day is a way again that we can all get together for one day and it's also an exercise for how we can design something and be able to build it in one or two days."

Each Learnscape is different every year.

Students get the chance to be a part of the designing and planning process. The one at Hickman Mills’ Education Center will focus on senses.

"This year's theme, we call it 'Sensescape' so what we are trying to do is find different things that engage in all the different senses,” Cooper said. “So we have different stations that come along this sidewalk that engages in all those different senses."

Director of public information & partnerships for the Hickman Mills C-1 School District, Ruth Terrell says it’s an exciting and thrilling opportunity for the district.

“We feel blessed,” she said. “Our children will be able to take advantage of new space that they're not used to and the best part about that is, is they helped designed the space, so whenever you have a chance to design it and be a part of the process, and then to see it come to fruition, that's just magic."

With all hands on deck, Hollis + Miller Architects hope to complete the Learnscape by Thursday afternoon.

The Learnscape will be home to the district’s compass program, a new project based learning program for it’s elementary students, focusing on the S.T.E.A.M. initiative: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.



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