Tuesday 31 August – Friday 1 October 2021
5.00 pm (AEST)


Design Speaks Virtual Portal
Virtual Event


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Program Info

Education is one of the most powerful investments for our future. For individuals, education can lead to a path of empowerment and employment, and at a larger scale it can have a significant impact on a nation’s economic return. With this in mind, how can architectural agency promote positive learning experiences and outcomes for all levels of education? In this edition of Old School New School, we hear from leading practitioners, researchers and educators from Australia and abroad as they discuss and interrogate architecture’s role in the future of education.


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CPD – Child’s Play: Designing for Early Learning


Sophia Buckle

Event Coordinator Header Image SH Kindergarten And Nursery in Toyama, Japan, by Youji no Shiro. Photography by Ryuji Inoue.


  • Child’s Play: Designing for Early Learning
    From the Montessori to Reggio Emilia method, there is a wide range of pedagogical
    approaches for early education, yet all share the common goal of providing high quality academic and developmental outcomes for our children. With early learning centres being one of the first formal educational experiences a child has, how can we ensure the built environment positively influences our youngest learners’ relationship with education? Speakers in this session will discuss the importance of joy when designing spaces for problem solving and play.
  • 11.50am Welcome
    Log in to the Design Speaks Virtual Portal
  • 12.00 pm Presentation 1
    Dr. Sandra Duncan, Inspiring Spaces Early Childhood Environmental Design, (Michigan, USA) with Faith Swickard, Wittman Estes Architecture and Landscape (Seattle, USA)
  • 12.20 pm Presentation 2
    Fiona Robbé, Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects (Sydney, NSW)
  • 12.40 pm Presentation 3
    Taku Hibino, Youji no Shiro (Kanagawa, Japan)
  • 1.00 pm Dissection
    An hour-long panel discussion with Dr. Sandra Duncan, Faith Swickard, Fiona Robbé and Taku Hibino, moderated by Natalia Krysiak from Hayball (Sydney, NSW).
  • 2.00 pm Session 2 concludes
    Return to the Design Speaks home page to see the full program
  • CPD – Child’s Play: Designing for Early Learning


Sandra Duncan

Founder, Inspiring Spaces Early Childhood Environmental Design

Sandra Duncan, EdD, is an international specialist of early childhood environments. She has conducted extensive research on the psychology of places and spaces – specifically how children engage with built environments and natural surroundings. Sandra applies the pedagogical theories of Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Waldorf when creating holistically designed places for young children.

Dr. Duncan is a former owner of multi-site/multi-state early learning campuses, president of an educational publishing company, and publisher of two well-respected education journals. She is also the author of six books focused on environmental design, the designer of two furniture collections (Sense of Place and Sense of Place for Wee Ones), and adjunct faculty at Nova Southeastern University. She is eternally grateful for the opportunities to transform hundreds of environments into extraordinary and inspiring places for young children.

More About Sandra Duncan →

Faith Swickard

Project Manager, Wittman Estes Architecture and Landscape

Faith Swickard’s design work is inspired by Luis Barragan’s “Emotional Architecture” and the belief that cold functionalism should be replaced with cultural, physical, and program oriented spaces. She maintains that public spaces and buildings should be created from the needs of the human psyche as much as from local ecology. Her research on the “Spatial Conditions of Emotions” was born of an interest in the impact of the built environment on human behaviour.

Faith received her dual Masters in Architecture and Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon, and her Bachelor of Urban Planning and Design from UC San Diego. She currently works in Seattle, WA, at Wittman Estes where she designs residential, interior, and landscape design projects – focusing on humane modernism on a range of scales, from intimate interiors to large apartment buildings.

More About Faith Swickard →

Fiona Robbé

Director, Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects

Fiona Robbé is a landscape architect and horticulturist who specializes in the design of outdoor children’s environments and has worked in the field for over 30 years. Her work encompasses public playgrounds in parks, as well as play areas in schools, preschools, zoos, churches, museums and anywhere children, young people and adults can play.

Fiona is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in the field of playground design. She has an extensive history in designing play space projects, is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars, and offers peer support and reviews to other offices, as well as pro bono research and advocacy.

More About Fiona Robbé →

Taku Hibino

Director, Youji no Shiro

Taku Hibino is the CEO and chairman of Hibinosekkei Inc. Born in 1972 in Kanagawa, Japan, he graduated from Kogakuin University in Tokyo.

He is a director of Youji no Shiro for Hibinosekkei children’s facilities; owner of the restaurant 2343 Foodlabo in Atsugi, Kanagawa, which produces locally sourced, healthy food and drink; and an owner of the nursery Kids Smile Labo, designed by Hibinosekkei and Youji no Shiro.

More About Taku Hibino →


Natalia Krysiak

Associate, Hayball

An associate at Hayball, Natalia Krysiak specializes in the design of child-oriented learning and play environments. Her area of research focuses on child-friendly cities and how the built environment can contribute to the health and wellbeing of children. In 2019 Natalia was awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

Her research investigates design interventions and policies that focus on playful urban and learning environments, exploring the best practices for designing child-friendly neighbourhoods in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and the UK. Based on this research, Natalia founded Cities for Play, which aims to inspire designers, planners and communities to design more child-friendly and playful cities.

More About Natalia Krysiak →

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