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Main findings

An illustrated guide produced by the research team and entitled "Clever Classrooms" is freely available for teachers and designers here. In addition Roland Aull has kindly created a German translation here.


The academic paper that provides the hard evidence for the suggestions in the above report was published in 2015 in the highly regarded refereed journal "Building and Environment". This paper is freely available here, together with a Russian translation kindly provided by the World Bank.

A "Top Ten Tips" summary of the results is freely available, plus an Arabic translation, produced with Gratnells' support.

A broad literature review on the impacts of the physical environment on learning has been written for the World Bank and includes and contextualises the project results. This is freely available here as a PDF and can be purchased as a physical book here

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Further publications

The main findings relate to the impact of classroom design on the aggregate progress pupils made across reading, writing and maths.  The whole multi-level analysis was re-run looking at the individual subjects and the academic results of this are given in the 2016 "Environment and Behaviour" paper, freely available here.  

A further analysis was carried out of the views of the 222 teachers interviewed during the project. Their views informed our approach, but were not used for the HEAD analysis. So this "soft" practitioners' viewpoint is available as a separate academic paper in Intelligent Buildings International and freely available here.

Using the HEAD SIN framework Professor Peter Barrett and Dr Lucinda Barrett carried out a case study assessment of a number of Norwegian primary schools in 2016 for the the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Training.  The "HEAD for Norway" summary report is freely available here.

Looking more broadly a more speculative academic paper has been written setting out ideas about how the HEAD findings in relation to schools suggest possibilities for optimising spaces for building users at every life-stage, such as workers in offices, patients in hospitals and older people in their homes. This was published in Building and Environment 2013 and is freely available here


The office part of this has been expanded into a book chapter: P. Barrett (2018) “Lessons from schools for productive office environments: the SIN model” in Creating the Productive Workplace: Places to Work Creatively, edited by Derek Clements-Croome, Routledge, Abingdon, Third Edition, Chapter 7, pp111-24. 

The HEAD results subsequent discussions have also informed a chapter arguing for a learner centric learning environment model in which educators, learning spaces and pedagogy (who, where and how) provide the context: P. Barrett and L.Barrett (2019) "Primary schools must be designed to enhance learning" in Designing Buildings for the Future of Schooling: Contemporary Visions for Education, edited by H.M. Tse et al, Routledge, Abingdon, Chapter 6, pp113-130.

The HEAD results have also led to the World Bank commissioning an extensive literature review of the impacts of the physical learning environment on learning: P.Barrett, A.Treves, T.Shmis, D.Ambasz, and M.Ustinova (2019) The Impact of School Infrastructure on Learning: A Synthesis of the Evidence, The World Bank Group, Washington. This is freely available here.

Subsequent work has deepened and widened the focus of consideration. 


Over 2020-21 an intervention was instigated at Trumpington Park Primary School in Cambridge by Gratnells. This focused at the classroom practice level. It was a pedagogically-led initiative to change the way pupils were taught towards a more "enquiry-led" approach, whilst at the same time redesigning the classroom layout to support this. The initiative was independently monitored via a longitudinal study. The very interesting outcomes are reported in P.Barrett (2022) A Journey into Space, Learning Spaces, Cambridge. This is freely available here

Going broader to a national level, involvement in a EC study focused on "A study on smart, effective, and inclusive investment in education infrastructure". This project assessed the 27 countries of the EU for the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. My input, as part of the lead Lithuanian PPMI team, focused mainly on: methodology, cross case analyses and the development of a best practice country-level model. The executive summary and final report have been published by the EU. They are freely available here: Exec Sum and Final Report.

Preparatory studies

Initial consideration of how to address this knotty issue started back in a workshop of sense specialists in 2007. A report of this stimulating event is freely available here.


This led to a significant effort to collect all of the published evidence about sensory impacts on learning that we could find.  This was published by the Salford Centre for Research and Innovation in Construction (SCRI) as an illustrated report in 2009. Out of this exercise the SIN analytical model began to emerge. SCRI Report 2 is freely available here


After much digestion and cogitation (!) an academic paper was published in 2010 entitled "The Potential of Positive Spaces".  This was the first time that the, as yet untested, SIN holistic analytical framework was proposed. It was published in Intelligent Buildings International and is available here.

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