The Shape of Things to Come

Planning Learning Spaces
Summer 21

“By using hexagonal rather than rectangular classrooms for remote learning, we could bring the connecting groups closer together, despite the distances between them...”

Illustration: Duncan Graham

”...No other shape tiles so densely, which is why nature abounds with tessellating hexagons, forming the cells in a beehive or the receptors of a dragonfly’s eye.”

Thinking Inside the Box with AR
Citizen Mag

“...Today we see knowledge as something more open and dynamic. We have moved towards new media, like Wikipedia, which can be updated in real-time and edited by all its users. This new digital frontier poses challenges for an educative architecture, signifying a move away from static cues, a la the Oxford Museum, to more fluid and transient methods of communication.

This is why augmented reality (AR) is such a powerful prospect for architects. AR interfaces (like smartphones) overlay digital elements into the space you inhabit. Where the Oxford Museum’s capitals were carved in sandstone, the detail of tomorrow’s architecture could be a virtual skin. AR would align the way we experience architecture with how we learn. AR elements, as digital fabrications, can be updated as readily as a webpage, unlike cumbersome and costly traditional materials. AR can be participatory: gestures, speech and movement can all be cues to change the space you inhabit, to perhaps reveal new details, uncover urban histories, or leave a mark. If we experienced architecture through AR it could be open both to change and to public participation; it would be a contemporary mode of architecture to not only learn in, but to learn from...”

How COVID saved the classroom
Education Technology

“Collaborative AR would harness the global reach of the internet to overcome the limitation of brick and mortar classrooms to localise learning; it overcomes the limitations of device based communication in supporting group learning.”

Visualisation: dbap studio

“Organic design was once prohibitively expensive, but new construction technologies like 3D printing deliver curved forms as cheaply as boxes. We can even 3D print buildings with earth dug up on site. A teacher who fell asleep in his or her classroom has woken up a year later and found that everything has changed.”

Beyond the Classroom
Architecture Today


“There were some really radical ideas there, some really fresh thinking, I think you’ve given us all a lot to think about.”
- Ruth Slavid @archifreelance

“In this model of learning everyone can achieve their individual potential, and being individual at school will no longer hold you back.”



  • Technology is transforming teaching, and we need to update learning spaces for the digital age.

  • Construction is changing, and new ways of building will enable new ways of designing.

  • Our mission is to rethink the architecture of education from the foundations up.

ArcED was born out of Hugh Gatenby’s graduate thesis research at the London School of Architecture, exploring the intersection between architecture and education. He previously studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he was the recipient of a Principal’s Teaching Award. He has also studied in New York, at Parsons School of Design.

After working in Paris for Lina Ghotmeh—Architecture, Hugh practiced in London at John McAslan + Partners. He now works in the public sector, as an analyst at Homes England. A keen teacher, Hugh enjoys running sailing courses as an RYA instructor. 

Hugh leads ArcED with a network of collaborators. 


If our ideas interest you, follow us on Twitter. Tweet us: we’d love to hear your thoughts too.
We design, draw, visualise and write about future learning spaces. If you create or manage education facilities then let us help you disrupt the status quo.

dbap studio
Duncan Graham