Zoning In - Spaceoasis

Research & Thinking

Not just a pretty room…Our research-informed design means every aspect of every space is there for a reason. Our spaces aren’t just beautiful, they work brilliantly. Here we share our research and thinking to help shape your ideas.

Defining your learning spaces makes them
(and the people using them) more effective

Creating learning spaces that work brilliantly and are loved by all who use them, comes down to one key question. It’s not about furniture, it’s not about technology and it’s not about colours or fabrics or anything you put in the space. It’s about function.

What you need the space to do (its function) determines what it is (its form). ‘Form follows function’ is a design mantra that was first coined in the early 20th century and is still the key to designing successful spaces today.

The most important question you need to ask is:

What do you want people to be able to do
in the space?

If you look at the main component activities of learning and work they include:

activity-icons_0005_Vector-Smart-Object

Collaboration and teamwork in groups of varying size

activity-icons_0004_Vector-Smart-Object-copy

Focused work carried out independently and alone

activity-icons_0003_Vector-Smart-Object-copy-2

Talking in pairs or small groups (formal meetings, informal or social chats)

activity-icons_0002_Vector-Smart-Object-copy-3

Gathering information and research, experimentation and exploring possibilities

Thinking, processing information, reflecting and reviewing

Gathering in teams or groups for presentations and discussions

Your usual spot?

People tend to sit in the same place every day, it becomes their territory. But this behaviour can restrict social interaction and encourage cliques to develop. Creating flexible, non-hierarchical shared spaces breaks down barriers, encourages greater collaboration and creates more opportunities to develop relationships with a broader range of people.

Each of these components demands something different from the environment; somewhere quiet to concentrate, somewhere you can gather a group, a place where you can escape and reflect, a comfortable space for social interactions and so on.  A rigid, mono-functional space will struggle to accommodate these varied activities comfortably and successfully.  One way to resolve this is to create clearly defined zones designed for different purposes.

Why zones work

Creating zones with distinct identities primes behaviour appropriate to the space.  We instinctively behave differently in a pub from how we would act in a library because we are primed through associative memory.  If you create a designated quiet space where people can work undisturbed, that’s where people will head to do their focused work and they will speak in hushed tones.  If you add a vibrant, café-style space where social interaction is encouraged, that’s where people will go to chat and they’ll be comfortable doing so.  By providing the right environment for the activity or task in hand, zones boost productivity by making it easier to get the work done.

Six key zones for learning spaces

A tightly focussed space where everyone can be heard. Varied height seating means each person has a clear line of sight, so it’s easy to attract attention without having to shout.

What it’s for?

Briefing, instruction, training, presentation, discussion and debate

When you need to gather your team or a group of people together this is the type of space you need.  It works for all types of presentation where you want the focus on the person at the front while keeping your audience engaged.  Tiered seating is fantastic for gathering in a group, it lends a sense of collegiality and camaraderie that really brings people together.  If you’re presenting, you can see everyone and everyone can see and hear you, so your audience is less likely to get distracted and you can more easily engage with them.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

The tiered seating in this zone means you can see everyone, they can see you and there’s no fidgeting in the back because everyone has a clear line of sight.  Attention is a finite resource and we tend to ‘spotlight’ our focus on a single subject of interest at any moment in time.  Our innate biases lead us down the path of least resistance so, if you want attention focused on a single speaker, it needs to be easy for everyone do so. Tiered seating makes it easy for presenter to spot questions, register confusion and monitor audience response and because it’s a tightly focussed space you won’t have to shout to be heard.

Design elements:

Attune tiered seating, add Lobe upholstered stools to increase capacity

An agile space with furniture that users can rearrange to suit the requirements of the task in hand, where they can share ideas and work in teams. Mobile upholstered seating and writable LearningSurface® tables and screens make this a truly dynamic, energetic space in which to share ideas and collaborate.

What it’s for?

Team tasks, peer-to-peer learning, group work in various sizes and configurations.

If you need to work in pairs or groups on a presentation or research project, this agile space allows people to come together easily and in comfort.  The Collaborate zone is also great for peer to peer learning or training; small groups can gather around a screen to collaborate or present to each other, pairs can grab a table or two and work together.

The dry-wipe LearningSurface® tables and screens allow people to explore ideas quickly and collaboratively (as long as everyone has a pen!) and a quick digital photo captures their outputs.  Larger groups can also be accommodated in this space – simply arrange the furniture to suit.

In this zone users are encouraged to move the tables, screens and seating to create a work area that suits their task.  Research proves that being able to influence your environment creates a sense of ownership that improves engagement and productivity, so allowing people to ‘own’ the space has genuine benefits.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

As well as giving people a valuable sense of ownership, the Collaboration zone’s writable surfaces allow people to develop shared ideas together.  Research shows that visual communication and the ability to explain ideas through sketching and scribing facilitates learning because it strengthens the neuronal pathways to the brain, providing additional routes to enable recall from long term memory, so if you’re working on complex ideas it helps to have writable surfaces to hand.

The Collaborate zone is also an excellent tool for training and development and learning.  Learning is an active and social process occurring as a result of observation and modelling.  The brain can also learn vicariously while watching others.  The design of the collaboration zone allows for both physical and cognitive collaboration, allowing people to learn alongside and from each other.

Design elements:

Bite tables with LearningSurface®, Agile screens and reverse cantilever chairs which can all be stacked / nestled to clear a space when required

Sometimes we need a quieter space, somewhere we can escape the noise and concentrate. Creating a Reflect Zone provides an area people can go to think, or simply escape the hubbub and exhale.

What it’s for?

The Reflect Zone is a space where people can sit and think away from the energy and noise of the other spaces.  An ideal place for individual reflection on work and feedback it’s also perfect for reading and working independently or in small groups. Because it is visually and acoustically separate from the main space it’s also useful for one-to-one conversations.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

Our inability to suppress auditory input can be damaging to attention as it makes it difficult to suppress distractions – in other words we ‘can’t hear ourselves think’.  A quieter space for thinking, reading or even meditating can improve concentration simply by making it easier.

Design elements:

A Curvpress® Okinawa Group Meeting Pod with upholstered seating and circular, freestanding central table with LearningSurface®. The outside walls of the pod can be used as a LearningSurface® touchdown area, which, because you are facing the outer pod wall, creates another space with fewer distractions by suppressing visual input.

By creating a zone where exploration is encouraged, in an environment designed to support experimentation, you can embrace the spirit of discovery. Making, breaking, trying things out – it depends on your area of focus. This space is for problem-solving at its most absorbing, which could include modelling, building prototypes, testing ideas and trying out new things.

What it’s for?

The Explore zone is an active zone rich in technology and / or analogue resources where people are encouraged to be inquisitive and experimental.  Working individually or as a team you can deep dive ideas, develop concepts, conduct research or explore the potential of new ideas.  In a learning setting this adaptable space could become an Idea Lab, Makerspace, STEM / STEAM studio, Tech Lab, Robotics Studio, Workshop… whatever your people need to discover and learn.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

The workshop aesthetic primes people through associative memory and encourages exploratory and creative behaviour.  The natural imperfections of the work surface will prime users to focus less on perfection and more on innovation.

Design elements:

It all comes down to what you want people to be able to do in your Explore zone.
Depending on your focus it can simply be workbenches with access to tools and 3d printers, or even just writable surfaces with power and data to which you bring your own resources. Super-organised storage with drawers, shelves, pegboards and trays plus integrated power and data mean there’s no time wasted finding equipment or figuring out where to plug it in. A soft seating area can be incorporated for briefings, presentations or reflection sessions. Writable whiteboard surfaces on workbenches and screens provide useful space for figuring out ideas – a quick digital photo can capture any outputs you want to keep.

A Talk Zone is designed to facilitate private conversations in a comfortable environment away from the madding crowd.

What it’s for?

Creating a private space which is visually, acoustically and aesthetically separate from other areas means you can hold important conversations uninterrupted and in comfort.  It’s a space where conversations that are sensitive or confidential can be held, whether by phone or face to face.  It can also form part of pastoral care provision, as a space dedicated to wellbeing.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

Our inability to suppress auditory input can be damaging to attention as it makes it difficult to suppress distractions – in other words we can’t hear ourselves think.  By providing an acoustically separate space for conversations – private or otherwise – you remove the potential for distracting your co-workers.

Design elements:

Curvpress® pods with upholstered seating and acoustic properties mean you can create an instant Talk Zone without losing a room. If you have the space for a more comprehensive solution then using soft seating and creating a café style area with acoustic booths creates a space with a completely different feel from everywhere else.

This is the zone you go to when you need visual and acoustic separation from everything and everyone so you can focus, zone in and plough on without distraction. Typically used when a deadline is imminent.

What it’s for?

Uninterrupted, focused, intense work.

Focus Zones use our trademark Curvpress® screens to create the illusion of privacy, creating a space that feels ‘away from it all’ even when it’s anything but.  Use S-shaped screens to create clusters of Focus Zones or C-shaped screens for individual pods, or combine the two to make the most of your space.  Add LearningSurface®  writable worksurfaces and / or walls, integrated power and data, comfortable upholstered seating and a light and you’ve got the perfect space for focused work.  And because Focus Zones are created using our Curvpress® modular pods, which have a lifetime structural guarantee, you can move them around or reconfigure them as and when you need to.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

Attention is a finite resource and we tend to take the path of least resistance and spotlight our attention on a single subject of interest at any moment in time, so if you want to concentrate you need to minimise visual and aural distractions.  The screens of the Focus Zone create a visual and acoustic barrier between you and whatever else is going on so you can get into your ‘flow’.  Comfort is also crucial.  Discomfort (or fatigue) wrecks attention so making sure the seating is comfortable and an appropriate height for your age group is critical.

Design elements:

Curvpress® pods with integrated worksurface, power and / or data and lighting.

Defining your learning spaces makes them
(and the people using them) more effective

Creating learning spaces that work brilliantly and are loved by all who use them, comes down to one key question. It’s not about furniture, it’s not about technology and it’s not about colours or fabrics or anything you put in the space. It’s about function.

What you need the space to do (its function) determines what it is (its form). ‘Form follows function’ is a design mantra that was first coined in the early 20th century and is still the key to designing successful spaces today.

The most important question you need to ask is:

What do you want people to be able to do
in the space?

If you look at the main component activities of learning and work they include:

activity-icons_0005_Vector-Smart-Object

Collaboration and teamwork in groups of varying size

activity-icons_0004_Vector-Smart-Object-copy

Focused work carried out independently and alone

activity-icons_0003_Vector-Smart-Object-copy-2

Talking in pairs or small groups (formal meetings, informal or social chats)

activity-icons_0002_Vector-Smart-Object-copy-3

Gathering information and research, experimentation and exploring possibilities

Thinking, processing information, reflecting and reviewing

Gathering in teams or groups for presentations and discussions

Your usual spot?

People tend to sit in the same place every day, it becomes their territory. But this behaviour can restrict social interaction and encourage cliques to develop. Creating flexible, non-hierarchical shared spaces breaks down barriers, encourages greater collaboration and creates more opportunities to develop relationships with a broader range of people.

Each of these components demands something different from the environment; somewhere quiet to concentrate, somewhere you can gather a group, a place where you can escape and reflect, a comfortable space for social interactions and so on.  A rigid, mono-functional space will struggle to accommodate these varied activities comfortably and successfully.  One way to resolve this is to create clearly defined zones designed for different purposes.

Why zones work

Creating zones with distinct identities primes behaviour appropriate to the space.  We instinctively behave differently in a pub from how we would act in a library because we are primed through associative memory.  If you create a designated quiet space where people can work undisturbed, that’s where people will head to do their focused work and they will speak in hushed tones.  If you add a vibrant, café-style space where social interaction is encouraged, that’s where people will go to chat and they’ll be comfortable doing so.  By providing the right environment for the activity or task in hand, zones boost productivity by making it easier to get the work done.

Six key zones for learning spaces

A tightly focussed space where everyone can be heard. Varied height seating means each person has a clear line of sight, so it’s easy to attract attention without having to shout.

What it’s for?

Briefing, instruction, training, presentation, discussion and debate

When you need to gather your team or a group of people together this is the type of space you need.  It works for all types of presentation where you want the focus on the person at the front while keeping your audience engaged.  Tiered seating is fantastic for gathering in a group, it lends a sense of collegiality and camaraderie that really brings people together.  If you’re presenting, you can see everyone and everyone can see and hear you, so your audience is less likely to get distracted and you can more easily engage with them.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

The tiered seating in this zone means you can see everyone, they can see you and there’s no fidgeting in the back because everyone has a clear line of sight.  Attention is a finite resource and we tend to ‘spotlight’ our focus on a single subject of interest at any moment in time.  Our innate biases lead us down the path of least resistance so, if you want attention focused on a single speaker, it needs to be easy for everyone do so. Tiered seating makes it easy for presenter to spot questions, register confusion and monitor audience response and because it’s a tightly focussed space you won’t have to shout to be heard.

Design elements:

Attune tiered seating, add Lobe upholstered stools to increase capacity

An agile space with furniture that users can rearrange to suit the requirements of the task in hand, where they can share ideas and work in teams. Mobile upholstered seating and writable LearningSurface® tables and screens make this a truly dynamic, energetic space in which to share ideas and collaborate.

What it’s for?

Team tasks, peer-to-peer learning, group work in various sizes and configurations.

If you need to work in pairs or groups on a presentation or research project, this agile space allows people to come together easily and in comfort.  The Collaborate zone is also great for peer to peer learning or training; small groups can gather around a screen to collaborate or present to each other, pairs can grab a table or two and work together.

The dry-wipe LearningSurface® tables and screens allow people to explore ideas quickly and collaboratively (as long as everyone has a pen!) and a quick digital photo captures their outputs.  Larger groups can also be accommodated in this space – simply arrange the furniture to suit.

In this zone users are encouraged to move the tables, screens and seating to create a work area that suits their task.  Research proves that being able to influence your environment creates a sense of ownership that improves engagement and productivity, so allowing people to ‘own’ the space has genuine benefits.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

As well as giving people a valuable sense of ownership, the Collaboration zone’s writable surfaces allow people to develop shared ideas together.  Research shows that visual communication and the ability to explain ideas through sketching and scribing facilitates learning because it strengthens the neuronal pathways to the brain, providing additional routes to enable recall from long term memory, so if you’re working on complex ideas it helps to have writable surfaces to hand.

The Collaborate zone is also an excellent tool for training and development and learning.  Learning is an active and social process occurring as a result of observation and modelling.  The brain can also learn vicariously while watching others.  The design of the collaboration zone allows for both physical and cognitive collaboration, allowing people to learn alongside and from each other.

Design elements:

Bite tables with LearningSurface®, Agile screens and reverse cantilever chairs which can all be stacked / nestled to clear a space when required

Sometimes we need a quieter space, somewhere we can escape the noise and concentrate. Creating a Reflect Zone provides an area people can go to think, or simply escape the hubbub and exhale.

What it’s for?

The Reflect Zone is a space where people can sit and think away from the energy and noise of the other spaces.  An ideal place for individual reflection on work and feedback it’s also perfect for reading and working independently or in small groups. Because it is visually and acoustically separate from the main space it’s also useful for one-to-one conversations.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

Our inability to suppress auditory input can be damaging to attention as it makes it difficult to suppress distractions – in other words we ‘can’t hear ourselves think’.  A quieter space for thinking, reading or even meditating can improve concentration simply by making it easier.

Design elements:

A Curvpress® Okinawa Group Meeting Pod with upholstered seating and circular, freestanding central table with LearningSurface®. The outside walls of the pod can be used as a LearningSurface® touchdown area, which, because you are facing the outer pod wall, creates another space with fewer distractions by suppressing visual input.

By creating a zone where exploration is encouraged, in an environment designed to support experimentation, you can embrace the spirit of discovery. Making, breaking, trying things out – it depends on your area of focus. This space is for problem-solving at its most absorbing, which could include modelling, building prototypes, testing ideas and trying out new things.

What it’s for?

The Explore zone is an active zone rich in technology and / or analogue resources where people are encouraged to be inquisitive and experimental.  Working individually or as a team you can deep dive ideas, develop concepts, conduct research or explore the potential of new ideas.  In a learning setting this adaptable space could become an Idea Lab, Makerspace, STEM / STEAM studio, Tech Lab, Robotics Studio, Workshop… whatever your people need to discover and learn.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

The workshop aesthetic primes people through associative memory and encourages exploratory and creative behaviour.  The natural imperfections of the work surface will prime users to focus less on perfection and more on innovation.

Design elements:

It all comes down to what you want people to be able to do in your Explore zone.
Depending on your focus it can simply be workbenches with access to tools and 3d printers, or even just writable surfaces with power and data to which you bring your own resources. Super-organised storage with drawers, shelves, pegboards and trays plus integrated power and data mean there’s no time wasted finding equipment or figuring out where to plug it in. A soft seating area can be incorporated for briefings, presentations or reflection sessions. Writable whiteboard surfaces on workbenches and screens provide useful space for figuring out ideas – a quick digital photo can capture any outputs you want to keep.

A Talk Zone is designed to facilitate private conversations in a comfortable environment away from the madding crowd.

What it’s for?

Creating a private space which is visually, acoustically and aesthetically separate from other areas means you can hold important conversations uninterrupted and in comfort.  It’s a space where conversations that are sensitive or confidential can be held, whether by phone or face to face.  It can also form part of pastoral care provision, as a space dedicated to wellbeing.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

Our inability to suppress auditory input can be damaging to attention as it makes it difficult to suppress distractions – in other words we can’t hear ourselves think.  By providing an acoustically separate space for conversations – private or otherwise – you remove the potential for distracting your co-workers.

Design elements:

Curvpress® pods with upholstered seating and acoustic properties mean you can create an instant Talk Zone without losing a room. If you have the space for a more comprehensive solution then using soft seating and creating a café style area with acoustic booths creates a space with a completely different feel from everywhere else.

This is the zone you go to when you need visual and acoustic separation from everything and everyone so you can focus, zone in and plough on without distraction. Typically used when a deadline is imminent.

What it’s for?

Uninterrupted, focused, intense work.

Focus Zones use our trademark Curvpress® screens to create the illusion of privacy, creating a space that feels ‘away from it all’ even when it’s anything but.  Use S-shaped screens to create clusters of Focus Zones or C-shaped screens for individual pods, or combine the two to make the most of your space.  Add LearningSurface®  writable worksurfaces and / or walls, integrated power and data, comfortable upholstered seating and a light and you’ve got the perfect space for focused work.  And because Focus Zones are created using our Curvpress® modular pods, which have a lifetime structural guarantee, you can move them around or reconfigure them as and when you need to.

Why it works!

The neuroscience bit

Attention is a finite resource and we tend to take the path of least resistance and spotlight our attention on a single subject of interest at any moment in time, so if you want to concentrate you need to minimise visual and aural distractions.  The screens of the Focus Zone create a visual and acoustic barrier between you and whatever else is going on so you can get into your ‘flow’.  Comfort is also crucial.  Discomfort (or fatigue) wrecks attention so making sure the seating is comfortable and an appropriate height for your age group is critical.

Design elements:

Curvpress® pods with integrated worksurface, power and / or data and lighting.