Western Academy of Beijing is a pioneering design project that integrates innovative learning strategies in playful architecture to support human development and self-directed learning. The design concept is an example of future proof school designs that foster 21st century skills and prepare students for the unexpected.
The design meets the need of the school’s visionary FLoW21 targets for team-teaching, flexible learning groups, mentorship and individualized timetables. Maximizing learning is at the heart of the prototype learning environments at the Western Academy of Beijing. The design upgrades the typical monofunctional spaces of schools in order to create flexible learning spaces for students at the IB middle- and high school. Instead of a traditional classroom structure, an obsolete design thinking from the industrial age, Rosan Bosch Studio organized spaces with spatial freedom to create a positive impact on the progress, behavior, wellbeing and health of both students and teachers.
We all learn in different ways and we can learn everywhere. Traditional classrooms don’t meet the need for either focused, team-oriented, facilitated or self-directed learning. The Western Academy Campus breaks with tradition and support project-based learning which gives teachers the possibility of facilitating differentiated learning, support the students that need it and collaborate across classes.
The students’ different needs in learning situations are reflected in the ten community-based spaces that allow both movement, interaction and concentration. With an open community structure, the new learning landscapes enhance student agency and self-directed learning that leads to a significant increase in motivation. Motivated students learn better, and the playful design strategy has been shown to positively support the students' learning journey.
The design strategy for Western Academy of Beijing is taking inspiration from the IB program’s Theory of Knowledge. The learning landscapes are themed by the Areas of Knowledge such as a community for mathematics and a multidisciplinary library. Within each area, differentiated spaces enable both students and teachers in the learning community to work with the Ways of Knowing.