Investigation 02: Learning Zones


The space of learning in a Montessori environment differs from that of a traditional learning environment in that it is oriented for a child’s learning and not for the teacher’s teaching. To decentralize the teacher, the curricular structure is embedded in a prepared environment and the materials it contains. This prepared environment is organized in zones which reflect all sensory conditions (not just visual and auditory). The prepared environment is carefully curated for each age group (3-6, 6-9, 9-12). Together, zones create multiple and overlapping fields within the classroom and beyond. Can you describe the field and visualize its content and variation?

Through detailed research: (1) produce a catalogue of the spaces zones and elements that make up the learning environment, (2) produce a graphical explanation of how layers of objects, spaces and people ‘act’ and are ordered as an “apparatus” of educational experience, and (3) generate a notation system to describe the learning environment in all its variability.

Schedule of Deliverables

Fri, 22 Jan, 14:00


Incorporating plan, section and/or axonometric diagrams, catalogue the spaces and elements that make up the environment of a Montessori classroom.  Draw all the layers of the educational apparatus–Indicate the criteria, relationships, and systems of regulation for all of the elements and supporting spaces: Spaces that need to be adjacent, spaces that require separation, spaces that overlap, spaces that transition into others, spaces contained within other spaces, spaces that are multiple and distributed, spaces that operate on several scales at once, etc…

Wed, 27 Jan, 14:00

2. Graphic Explanation and Analysis

Expanding on the space of ‘play’ for the material investigated last week, produce notational drawings indicating how the space of multiple learning materials ‘act’ to produce a field.

Utilizing the catalogue:

A.  Draw the learning environment from the perspective of i) the teacher, ii) the child and iii) the parent.  Start from the participant and work slowly outward adding details and layers of systems – This map is not to scale, but you should develop a precise graphic legend that allows you to work systematically but also exhaustively. Try not to skip any detail.

B. Describe the total learning environment.  Draw literal layers of object, spatial volume and zones. Describe these environments by illustrating the orchestration of people and elements that make up learning zones and the relationship between zones : How is the prepared environment ordered? What layers of objects, spaces, and people are part of the educational “apparatus” and how are they ordered? How does the learning environment extend to the home? Seek out layers, define them, and assign a medium to them to make 2D models that explore:

    1. space of inactive “materials”
    2. space of activated “materials”
    3. space of student activity
    4. space of teacher to student relations
    5. spaces of student interaction
    6. volumes implied by furniture
    7. volumes implied by architecture
    8. volumes implied by movement
    9. spaces that analogous between school and home
    10. durations of the daily ritual
    11. etc…


material, prepared environment, curriculum, zone, territory, edge, landmark,interstitial space, polyvalent, apparatus, literal, phenomenal.


Giorgio Agamben, “What is an Aparatus?”

Herman Hertzberger, The Classroom Dethroned, Space and Learning, Lessons in Architecture 3.

Herman Hertzberger, Making Space, Leaving Space, Lessons for Students in Architecture.

Herman Hertzberger, Sociology of the table, Lessons in Architecture 2

Nienhuis Catalog


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