Exploring Users’ Sensory Experiences in Physical Learning Spaces: Politecnico di Milano School of Design as a Case Study


The paper aims to identify learning space users' sensory needs and preferences and determine which interior design elements and strategies best meet them to positively influence behavior and impact learning, educational performance, and individual and social well-being. A two-phase mixed-methods research (MMR) methodology is employed in the study. First, a thorough literature review was conducted to understand the sensory characteristics of learning spaces, particularly in higher education institutions (HEIs), and the common metrics for assessing the sensory performance of learning space users. This was followed by a field research methods phase encompassing surveys of 55 participants, including students and educators, at Politecnico di Milano (PoliMI) School of Design regarding their sensory experiences in four different classrooms. In addition, direct observation was done in the same classrooms. The findings of this paper have revealed that sight is the most important sensory factor, followed by sound, smell, touch, and taste. Lighting, indoor air quality, and ventilation are the interior design elements with the greatest sensory importance, with the highest equal percentage of 58.2%. Acoustics and noise level are next, with 54.5% and 52.7%, respectively, followed by thermal comfort, colors, smells, shapes, and textures. Furthermore, a noisy learning space reduces focus and raises anxiety, while poor air quality and insufficient temperature can cause headaches. This highlights the necessity of improving the quality of learning space design and taking sensory preferences into account during the design process.

Author Information
Reejy Atef Abdelatty Mikhail, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Anna Barbara, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2023
Stream: Mind

This paper is part of the ECE2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Mikhail R., & Barbara A. (2023) Exploring Users’ Sensory Experiences in Physical Learning Spaces: Politecnico di Milano School of Design as a Case Study ISSN: 2188-1162 The European Conference on Education 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2188-1162.2023.59
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2188-1162.2023.59

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon