Schools as 3D Textbooks for Sustainability Education

  • Marta BrkovićEmail author
  • Rosie Parnell


Some architects and researchers claim that sustainable school design can raise awareness of sustainability issues and stimulate children to explore the same, thus acting pedagogically as the ‘third teacher’. However, existing design guidance explaining how to achieve sustainability in the school environment neglects this pedagogical potential. Studies delineating the ways in which school design might respond to education theories correspondingly encompass few sustainability issues. Identifying this gap, we searched the literature aiming to explain how the physical fabric of a sustainable school could provoke learning about sustainability, and on which pedagogical ideas these designs build. This paper critically reflects on the findings, drawing on relevant findings from a participatory post-occupancy study in a Spanish ‘sustainable school’ in order to establish principles and draw out messages that could be important for debates in the intersecting fields of school design and education. The findings are discussed under three core themes: food and healthy nutrition; celebrating cultural diversity; and managing the environment. It is concluded that in order to reap the pedagogical benefits of ‘sustainable schools’, the use of space needs to be choreographed through a collaborative development process with teachers and pupils.


Sustainable schools The ‘third teacher’ Built environment education Spatial pedagogy 



This paper draws upon research carried out by Marta Brković for a PhD at the University of Sheffield, School of Architecture, supervised by Prue Chiles and Rosie Parnell.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NGO ARQubatorBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Department of Architecture and Built EnvironmentNorthumbria UniversityNewcastleUK

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