Transformance wrap up: Pub Chat with the Victorian Chapter

Published: Friday 28 June 2019

The Victorian Chapter’s post-conference "Pub Chat" aims to share highlights of the conference with those who couldn’t attend, and it’s becoming quite the valuable tradition.

LEaRN's Director and former Chapter Chair, Dr. Ben Cleveland, presented some key messages from the Transformance conference held in Perth in May.

Conference MC and workshop presenter, Ewan McIntosh (No Tosh)

School for Movements
Dr Cleveland highlighted the concept of ‘school for movements’ in the Netherlands which have a whole school design approach to focus on students’ wellbeing. In the fictitious world of Harry Potter, the Hogwarts School of Wizardry features over a 142 staircases in all shapes and sizes from sweeping to narrow and rickety ones and some even have vanishing steps!  In the real world, schools in Netherlands encourage students to be more active  through walls for climbing, multiple staircases and sports facilities on rooftops to encourage incidental movements.


 Keynote Viggo Haremst (Henning Larsen) conducts his workshop with delegates

Blurring ‘the line’ between campus and city
The creation of public buildings such as the Lochal Library in Birmingham stands as an iconic signature of a blend between places to learn and live. It was originally used for construction of steam engines before being turned into what Francine Houben, architect of the library and Transformance keynote, claimed as a ‘People’s Palace.’ A real public building which is inviting and inspiring for all ages and backgrounds. An interesting feature of its interior design is a table top supported by old train wheels which was placed on functional tracks to be easily relocated.

Francine Houben (Mecanoo Architecten) used Lochal Library to illustrate the blurring of lines between places to learn and places to live

The library’s mindful design with its ever-changing vistas and view lines unfolds as you navigate through the building.  They continue onto lower levels and below ground before emerging at Centenary Square, weaving into an exterior red line. On closer look, the line is actually an informal red brick pedestrian route that runs right through the heart of the city; the building has become an extension of the civic life.


Paul Collard (Creativity, Culture and Education UK) analysed the link between creativity and enhanced learning

Fostering creativity
The conscious use of learning environments in fostering students’ creativity was another hotly discussed topic.  Experiential learning and putting students in charge of their learning experiences are believed to spark creativity.  In the presentation, Cleveland humorously reiterated an example where students ‘were brought to a forest, lit a fire and returned, transformed'.

Kate Raynes-Goldie's keynote explored the growing role of play and creativty in future learning

Fitness for Purpose
‘Space does not matter!’, Dr Cleveland reported the challenge given to all delegates at the conference by Professor John Hattie.  Professor Hattie later explained that spaces matter only if we use it well.  Treading a fine line, Dr Cleveland attempted to address a sensitive topic about a common misunderstanding of which design professionals appreciated spaces more than their counterparts in education.

John Hattie's keynote laid down a challenge for delegates

However, data that was collected from projects conducted at the Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) indicated otherwise.  They show that educators understand twice as much as designers about the space that they use. This team of researchers is on a mission to find out why.

A lively keynote discussion panel concluded Transformance

Following Dr Cleveland's Transformance presentation at Pub Chat, chats and chattering could be heard over clinking of reds, whites and bubbles.  In the cosy corner of The Clyde Hotel in Carlton, guests reflected on another meaningful post-conference conversation, and looked forward to Christchurch in 2020.

Article: Celina Lee

Conference photos: Dani Martin, Jeff Phillips, Laurence Robinson

Pubc Chat Top Gallery Photos: Euway Gan, Celina Lee

LEA's 19th annual conference, Transformance, was held in Perth from May 28-31, 2019.  Our 20th annual conference, re:Activate, will be held in Christchurch from May  13-15, 2020.