By Andrew Laing, PhD, Director, DEGW
I was very excited to be invited to share DEGW’s thinking about the corporate workplace at a conference about “Future Learning Environments – How Space Impacts on Learning” held at the Nobel Forum of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden on the 3-5th June.  The presentations and discussion focused on inter-professional education in the medical field. The demand for change is driven by the need to challenge the misalignment between specialized medical buildings and spaces and the growing need to enable team based inter-disciplinary and inter professional learning. How to better align the design of space with emerging curriculum and pedagogy?


Much discussion centered on the role of place in learning. How does the design of places enable activity based learning in communities of practice? How do we avoid rigidly designing spaces for only one style of pedagogy which may become outdated?

I presented DEGW’s own experience in engaging users actively in a process of research to create the requirements for design in the corporate sector. Many features of innovation in the knowledge workplace are parallel with learning environments: the impact of technology on enabling mobile and distributed work and learning; the demands for cross disciplinary work and collaboration; the opening up of workplaces with new ways of using space whether in the form of co-working or inviting other organizations to share space; and the expansion of work  beyond the office building to the wider networks of working and learning spaces in the city at large.

It was great to realize that so many institutions recognize that the design of space and places will have an essential role to play in enabling the emerging styles of inter-professional learning. The papers presented at the conference will be published in a special edition of the Journal of Inter Professional Care in 2013.


These themes were also picked up in many of the case studies shared at the conference, for example Catherine Schmidt of the Danish Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation highlighted examples of the ETH University in Zurich where the academic campus is opened up to the city for the residents to use; or the Rolex Learning Center ( where overlapping functionalities are designed into the urban landscape of Lausanne.

The Karolinska Institute itself has embarked on a large scale urban scale development that will physically connect the Institute with the city of Stockholm by bridging across a major highway. The development of the Solna city area will include housing, 34,000 workplace and research spaces, a new lab building, and the teaching hospital of 300,000 sqm as well as several other major learning facilities.

Professors Gerri Lamb and James Shraiky shared the work they are doing at the Arizona State University on designing for competency in collaboration ( for which inter-professional ways of learning are seen as critical. They referenced examples such as the USC school of Medicine. Judith Mitchell of Longwood Health Systems Consulting referenced similar educational space innovations at the University of Virginia, Claude Moore Medication Education building (DEGW did the strategic briefing) involving team based learning studios and related simulation centers.