Why Space Matters to Creativity

Source: Wendy Newstetter, Director of Learning Sciences Research, College of Engineering (retired) – Georgia Institute of Technology

When we walk into a space, we ask and determine what we can do in that space:

  • What is acceptable?
  • What is allowable?
  • What can happen here and what cannot?
  • What should happen here?

We scan the environment, which in its design/structure/furniture helps us produce inferences that allow us to come to provisional answers to these questions. Bringing this concept of positioning into discussions of creative spaces opens up
new and novel avenues for understanding how space matters. We want to make the case that space is not inert; rather, it positions certain configurations of use and exploitation while vigorously resisting others.

In 2012, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the LSC undertook a project focusing on Cognition and Context: How Space Affects Learning and Creativity in the Undergraduate Setting. Newstetter was a member of the Sloan project team.

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