Communication and Cooperation

Shaping communication

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Shaping communication

The conscious design of rooms is preceded by analysis. How should the rooms be used? How many people will use the rooms? How should they interact with each other? The planners of learning worlds deal with these and similar questions. Their findings can also be used for the planning of communication spaces in companies.

Based on the insight that learning spaces are always also communication spaces, the American futurologist and consultant Dr. David D. Thornburg defined four prototypical forms of communication and learning and symbolized them through the terms: Mountain Top, Cave, Campfire and Watering He (see below). With the help of these communication metaphors, schools and other educational institutions should be able to become more aware of which forms of learning they want to support and which spaces or - in the case of digitally supported communication - technologies are needed.

The Danish architect and designer Rosan Bosch developed the system further, added the category Hands on and symbolized the forms of communication with pictograms.

Types of learning and communication


One to many

  • Oral presentations, live or digital performances, e. g. readings, webinars, telephone connections and similar orientations
  • Typical use: presentation in front of a group, personally or through the use of digital media


personal learning environment

  • Physical and digital, individually selected learning locations for retreat and concentrated work. Individual rooms, libraries, home offices, 3rd places.
  • Typische use: undisturbed learning, working alone, being concentrated, working quietly


One to many, in turn

  • Semistructured, collaborative physical and digital learning worlds, e.g. discussion groups, meetings and online communication
  • Typical use: group work, interdisciplinary team work, listening to others, exchanging ideas, discussing


Many to many

  • Informal gathering, physical and digital, e.g. cafeterias, playgrounds or break rooms, halls and corridors, wikis and social collaboration platforms
  • Typical use: working in small groups, teamwork, listening to others, everyone contributes


Tactile experience supplemented by Rosan Bosch

  • Enhance physical and sensual experiences to deepen positive learning goals, e.g. playing, exploring and testing
  • Important elements: touch, grasp, feel, experiment, build


The analysis tool can also be used to structure communication needs in companies. Similar to schools, many companies are still relatively uniform about workplace design. As a result, important interaction processes are insufficiently supported.

In an interview with trend researcher Birgit Gebhardt, however, Rosan Bosch warns against understanding the images stored in the analysis pictograms as design guidelines. Rather, they must be transferred to the respective situation and interpreted freely. Otherwise, the chance would be missed to adapt the facility to the respective corporate culture and the preferences of the users.

Rosan Bosch is the Managing Director of Rosan Bosch Studio, based in Copenhagen with branches in Chicago and Barcelona. Her work ranges from exhibition design to the interior of schools and innovation centres. Current projects include the Academy For Global Citizenship in Chicago, the Montessori School in Landau and the Children's Library in Billund.
Further information can be found at

Dr. David D. Thornburg founded the Thornburg Center, based in Lake Barrington, Illinois, USA, dedicated to the use of new technologies in schools and adult education. Under the name 'holodeck', borrowed from science fiction, he experiments with rooms that can be flexibly adapted to the respective usage situation.
Further information can be found at


The contents and graphics on this page were taken from the New Work Order study "Creative Learning Environments" by trend researcher Birgit Gebhardt, published in October 2016. The study can be ordered free of charge from IBA publications.