Wellbeing & Learning Driving Design

Time: 14:15 - 15:30

Date: Day 1


The challenges of designing for children and young adults with autism

Claire Mantle Schools Director, ADP & Claire Hunt, Head of Landscape, ADP

Inside: Only by stepping into the shoes of pupils, parents and staff, can we understand just how design can positively impact every day activities and experiences; teaching and learning, and wellbeing.

We review how spaces can be carefully designed to support restorative behaviour, with consideration given to: Wellbeing, Predictability, Sensory stimulation, Passive observation, Reassurance, Sensory Transition, Flexibility, Privacy and Dignity, Staff safety, User Control, Predictability.

Outside: Outdoor learning can make for happier, healthier, well-rounded students – particularly those with special educational needs. Outdoor spaces relieves stress and anxiety, develop social skills and motivate learning.

The healing ability of a landscape is well documented in healthcare: natural environments offer peace and tranquillity, and can help improve recovery. Applying these principles in education settings, is just as crucial. Drawing on our experiences in both education and residential design for autism and SEN, we explore the key watch-points.

Using video interviews from our schools, heads, to convey how design can make a difference to them.

Improving Well-being and Learning with Biophilic Design

Mark Brown, Consultant, TG Escapes Eco Buildings

With UK society facing a mental health crisis it is now more important than ever to support the well-being of students and their teachers. Incorporating nature-inspired (biophilic) design elements into school buildings is one way to help. Many research studies have shown how the use of natural materials, the provision of natural light, ease of access to the outdoors and the incorporation of nature inspired shapes, patterns and images can improve the built environment.
We will explain the principles of biophilic design and show that they can easily be incorporated into new buildings and added to existing spaces. We will look at the impact of biophilia on educational outcomes and general well-being using independent research and case studies.

Learning Points:

  1. The principles of biophilic design
  2. The evidence that nature inspired design supports well-being
  3. Case studies illustrating the impact of biophilic building design in mainstream and special schools

Adapting HCD for SEN

Lucy Greenland, Project Architect, Atkins

Ruth Hynes, Senior Design Researcher, Atkins

How do we broaden the engagement process to ensure it is inclusive of all users of a building, particularly those with Special Educational Needs? How can we utilise digital tools to capture meaningful data from SEN staff/pupils to ensure their specific requirements are acknowledged and integrated as part of the Project Brief and ultimately completed building?

In this presentation we share how together, with the National Autistic Society we have been researching and exploring how we can develop our Atkins HCD toolkit to become fully inclusive of all users. This includes exploring the integration of established SEN communication methods and new design optioneering analysis methods (e.g., sensory mapping) to collect meaningful data.

Learning Points:

1. Human Centred Design Toolkit
2. Methods of communication for SEN in Stakeholder Engagement Workshops
3. SEN Design Options Analysis Methodologies – e.g. Sensory Mapping etc.



  • Claire Mantle Education Sector Lead - ADP
  • View full profile for Claire HuntClaire Hunt Head of Landscape - ADP
  • Mark Brown Consultant - TG Escapes - modular eco-buildings
  • Lucy Greenland Project Architect - Atkins
  • Ruth Hynes Associate Design Researcher - Atkins


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