Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (108.57 MB)

Adaptive Education

Download (108.57 MB)
posted on 2023-09-23, 23:29 authored by Benjamin Waddington

Many secondary school buildings in New Zealand are inflexible, deteriorating and incapable of addressing the demands placed on them today. Adaptive long-term strategies are needed in place of short-term responses to avoid repeating these problems. Despite standalone prefabricated classrooms responding quickly to enrolment numbers their accumulation has introduced many issues regarding poor integration, and undesirable restrictions to the variety of learning spaces in schools. Recently, under an agenda of ‘innovative’ learning, some pioneering school projects have been delivered which provide unique responses constrained by the trends of school and classroom planning at their time of construction. In response to this situation, this research proposes a school planning and construction system which allows for flexibility and adaptation in response to different site conditions and varying enrolment numbers. This system plans for a range of learning spaces, including standard classrooms, experiment spaces, learning streets, study spaces and breakout rooms. In a first methodological step, case studies of three recent school projects from NZ, Japan and Germany are analyzed for their space planning and associated pedagogical strategies. This is undertaken at the scales of student workspace, classrooms, and the overall school. The space metrics deduced allow a comparison of space use per student, as well as the underlying pedagogical strategies. Subsequently, the space planning information is used inductively to develop a flexible school planning and construction system. Flexibility here is understood as a) the ability to respond to a range of different site conditions, b) ability to adapt the physical structure to growing or shrinking student numbers, and c) ability to enable different pedagogical settings and strategies. A series of coordinated design and construction-based modules are proposed as a system which coordinates space planning strategies and structural design logic.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

120204 Institutional construction design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Title

A Modular Approach to School Design

Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Wilhelm, Hans Christian