HomeLearning Spaces: an urban and territorial issue

HomeLearning Spaces: an urban and territorial issue

Learning Spaces: an urban and territorial issue

Les espaces d’apprentissage : une question urbaine et territoriale

Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale urbaine et paysagères

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Published on Friday, April 08, 2022


This thematic dossier of Cahiers de la recherche architecturale urbaine et paysagères aims to collect contributions that make it possible to identify and better understand the places, policies and actors involved in production and transformation processes as well as in the uses of learning spaces. The projects and programs centered on learning spaces may address three areas for consideration, regarded in an integrated or separate way depending on the case. Proposed contributions may thus be positioned in relation to one or more of these elements.



Thematic dossier coordinated Cristina Renzoni et Paola Savoldi


Ordinary places for collective services and facilities were largely designed and built during the last century, in the golden age of welfare policies in Europe. They contributed to shaping and structuring everyday spaces in different contexts: in urban and metropolitan areas through expansion operations (both public and private initiatives), widespread interventions in areas of settlement dispersion, or even ad hoc interventions in areas of low population density. These everyday infrastructures  are mainly comprised of spaces from the public sphere, but also from the private sphere, constituting an extensive and organized heritage made up of built and unbuilt spaces, whose use value remains entangled with the rights of citizenship and social equality.  This is the case for schools, sports facilities, civic centers, libraries, playgrounds, health centers, markets, and places of worship.

At their foundation, public policies and project design cultures present recurring features in Europe and elsewhere, such as principles of organization in terms of proximity, resemblance to reference models, the seriality of typological solutions, as well as the generalized use of similar construction techniques.  Nevertheless, these spaces have come to be used differently over time and certain have undergone transformations: such as reconversion, adaptation, abandonment, or temporary use, in relation to structural shifts, such as economic and financial crises or demographic decline, or specific shifts, such as those linked to particular socio-territorial characteristics. The real and potential role of these facilities thus remains important today, also in light of the health crisis taking place in Europe since the beginning of the 2020s. Educational spaces have been particularly subjected to adaptations and transformations resulting from limits inflicted by the pandemic, alongside other public and collective spaces closely linked to schools.

Some ongoing trends confirmed and aroused renewed interest. This is the case of learning spaces which have their most significant center of gravity in schools and educational institutions, but which can be extended and integrated into other urban spaces: from the traditional space of classrooms and corridors to school courtyards and open spaces, from urban spaces at access points to places and facilities (sporting, cultural) in the proximity of schools, shared on a neighborhood or city-wide scale. From this perspective, learning spaces are not only dedicated to education, but also overall and seamlessly constitute urban spaces, since schools and cities both play an educational role as places of cultural, collective, social, civic, and environmental learning experiences.

This thematic dossier aims to collect contributions that make it possible to identify and better understand the places, policies and actors involved in production and transformation processes as well as in the uses of learning spaces. The projects and programs centered on learning spaces may address three areas for consideration, regarded in an integrated or separate way depending on the case. Proposed contributions may thus be positioned in relation to one or more of these elements.

The first concerns education, that is, initiatives in terms of training, activities and projects involving the so-called "educational community", bringing together resources and actors, and often entailing the urban context (spatial and social), schools, libraries or civic centers. These are activities in which students, families, teachers, neighborhoods/municipalities and associations often participate, and which are often rooted in schools. For example, through non-traditional educational models, a school can open up to experiences of exploration, learning and knowledge: collective discovery and reconstruction of the history and cultural heritage of a neighborhood or city, forms of generational mutual aid between young students and the elderly, exchanges between schools of different levels and neighborhoods. Building on references from the field of pedagogy,  these initiatives can have a significant impact and involve other uses of space, along with other possible forms of civil coexistence and knowledge of the city.

The second concerns the materiality of these spaces and the different ways of designing, managing and maintaining them. Throughout the 20th century, extensive programs were launched for the creation of public facilities, according to sector-based logics (such as for the creation of educational spaces) or according to more contextual logics, in conjunction with an integrated design of new neighborhoods.  More recently, several programs have been launched and supported in various European contexts in relation to a building stock in need of upgrading, as well as efficiency and safety measures.   Often emergency rationality prevails, producing technical interventions on single spaces or buildings. However, there is no lack of experiences and programs in which a parallel approach has been adopted, between single emergencies and medium-long term strategies to act according to system logic.

The third concerns urban planning and policies. A program for the design and redevelopment of learning spaces is intrinsically urban, as these spaces are an integral part of urban endowments, surveyed in urban plans and public policies. For example, schools define urban geography in order to respond to educational demands, but the school population has tended to change in number and composition: in several western cities, social polarization has emerged within urban spaces where severe school segregation is often found. Demographic phenomena and processes of urban reorganization therefore challenge administrators and planners, inviting us to rethink the governance and design of learning spaces as a lever for acting upon forms of social and spatial inequality.

Action on learning spaces and younger populations is a cornerstone of long-term public policies, supporting links between actions and objectives in education, school building, and urban strategies. This thematic dossier aims to establish a state of the art and contribute to the debate on these themes, both in Europe and elsewhere. It therefore welcomes contributions from researchers, administrators or professionals who contribute to reconstructing important policies, programs and projects (material or not) in relation to one (or more) of the three above-mentioned elements.

The expected contributions may belong to different disciplinary research fields: 20th century urban and architectural history, urban planning processes and tools, the construction of urban policies, the spatial organization of services related to social and educational policies within cities, the design of open and built spaces, and the transformation of existing heritage.

Articles may present case studies addressing forms, uses and management of learning spaces; policies, projects and decision-making processes able to bring together different actors (the educational community) around educational objectives, favoring networks of places and actors. They may also embody transversal studies or research on political cycles, programs and tools having a direct or indirect impact on the relationships between learning experiences and urban spaces. Also expected are contributions that reconstruct the history of space and its use during the post-war boom, and in conjunction with the construction of new neighborhoods, as well as those that deal with more recent processes of transformation, adaptation or reconversion resulting from temporary or permanent planning projects.

In addition, contributions that address circumscribed spaces, such as schools in which experimental projects on learning conditions and processes have been conducted with implications within and outside of school boundaries, are welcome, such as those relating to broader interventions, at the scale of the borough or neighborhood, up to the municipal or national level.

Procedure for the transmission of draft articles

Completed article proposals should be sent by email to the Editorial Secretariat of Cahiers de la recherche architecturale, urbaine et paysagère to craup.secretariat@gmail.com

before June 10, 2022.

For more information, contact Aude Clavel at 06 10 55 11 36

Expected Formats : articles or “research materials”

Articles, whether in French or in English, must not exceed 50,000 characters, including spaces, bibliography and notes.

Articles must be accompanied by :

  • 1 biobibliographical record between 5 to 10 lines (name and first name of the author (s), professional status and/or titles, possible institutional link, research themes, latest publications, e-mail address).
  • 2 abstracts in French and English.
  • 5 key words in French and English.
  • The title must appear in both English and French

Editorial line

Placed in the fields of architectural, urban and landscape research, the Cahiers initially developed from the 1970s in research labs of the French schools of architecture. On becoming an online international journal, the Cahiers initiates today a new formula targeted towards the research communities concerned by intentional transformations of space, whatever the scales.

The Cahiers aims at meeting current interests and issues in these fields, seeking to renew them and to open new directions of research. Three main research issues are more directly questioned. One specifically concerns theoretical aspects, in order to develop exchanges and discussions between theories of design, planning, architecture and landscape. Another issue refers to the materiality of the city, the technical know-how involved in spatial transformation, but also the material dimension of of transfer and mobilization phenomena, often analyzed in other journals from a-spatial angles. Lastly, the third issue questions the project and its design, which holds a special place in the sciences and the practice of space (performative roles of projects, theories of practice).

These three poles call for interdisciplinary works, dedicated to trace in-depth explanations of the transformations of the built environment at the Anthropocene Era. The expected scientific production refers to common criteria of peer reviewing processes. It could pay a particular attention to the issues of pictures and visual production in a field where images can serve as discourse.

The evaluation is peer-rewiewed.

Editorial Board

Chief Editor: Frederic Pousin

  • Manuel Bello Marcano
  • Franck Besançon
  • Gauthier Bolle
  • Enrico Chapel
  • Benjamin Chavardes
  • Laurent Devisme
  • Yankel Fijalkow
  • Sandra Fiori
  • Xavier Guillot
  • Caroline Maniaque
  • Valerie Negre
  • Helene Vacher
  • Andrea Urlberger

Editorial Assistant: Aude Clavel


1. Foundational Economy Collective, Foundational Economy: The Infrastructure of Everyday Life, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2018.

2. Donzelot, Vers une citoyenneté urbaine ? La ville et l’égalité des chances, Paris, Éditions Rue d’Ulm, 2009

3. Klinenberg, Palaces for the people. How infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life, New York, Crown, 2018.

4. Swenarton, T. Avermaete, D. van den Heuvel (eds.), Architecture and the Welfare State, Routledge, London. 2014.

5. Million, A.J. Heinrich, T. Coelen (eds.), Education, Space and Urban Planning. Education as a Component of the City, Cham, Springer, 2017 ; C. Renzoni, P. Savoldi, « Scuole : spazi urbani di transizione e apprendimento », Urbanistica, n° 163, 2019, pp. 140-147 ; Association internationale villes éducatrices/Ajuntament de Barcelona, Charte des villes éducatrices, AIVE éditions, 2020.

6. Dewey, The School and Society, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1899 ; M. Montessori, « Il cittadino dimenticato », Vita dell’infanzia, n° 1, 1952, pp. 3-6 ; C. Ward, The Child in the City, New York, Pantheon Books, 1978 ; C. Ward, A. Fyson, Streetwork: The Exploding School, London, Routledge & K. Paul, 1973.

7. L.P. Symaco, C. Brock, C. (eds.), Space, place and scale in the study of education, Routledge, London, 2016 ; K. Darian-Smith, J. Willis (eds.), Designing Schools. Space, place and pedagogy, London/New York, Routledge, 2017 ; P. Vangrunderbeeck, « Les espaces physiques d’apprentissage. Mettre en relation espaces et méthodes pédagogiques pour optimiser l’apprentissage », Les Cahiers du Lovain Learning Lab, n° 9, Louvain, Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2020.

8. M.D. Lassiter (ed.), « Schools and housing in Metropolitan History », Journal of Urban History, n° 2, 2012, pp. 195-270 ; A. Châtelet, M. Le Cœur, « L’architecture scolaire : essai d’historiographie internationale », Histoire de l’éducation, n° 102, mai 2004.

9. Della Torre, M. Bocciarelli, L. Daglio, R. Neri (eds.), Buildings for Education. A multidisciplinary overview of the design of school buildings, Springer Open, 2019 ; M. Fianchini, Renewing Middle School Facilities, Cham, Switzerland, Springer, 2020.

10. D.R. Ford, Education and the Production of Space. Political Pedagogy, Geography, and Urban Revolution, New York, Routledge, 2017 ; C. Pacchi, C. Ranci Ortigosa, W. Boterman, S. Musterd, « School segregation in contemporary cities : Socio-spatial dynamics, institutional context and urban outcomes », Urban Studies, Special Issue, vol. 56, n° 15, 2019, pp. 3055-3073 ; M. R. Lamacchia, D. Luisi, C. Mattioli, R. Pastore, C. Renzoni, P. Savoldi, « Contratti di scuola : uno spazio per rafforzare le relazioni tra scuola, società e territorio », in A. Coppola, M. Del Fabbro, A. Lanzan , G. Pessina, F. Zanfi, Ricomporre i divari. Politiche e progetti territoriali contro le disuguaglianze e per la transizione ecologica, Bologna, il Mulino, 2021, pp. 239-249.


  • Friday, June 10, 2022


  • espace urbain, apprentissage, territoire


  • aude clavel
    courriel : craup [dot] secretariat [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • aude clavel
    courriel : craup [dot] secretariat [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Learning Spaces: an urban and territorial issue », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, April 08, 2022, https://calenda.org/984475

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