Outdoor Learning Space

Material samples: biocomposite and floor grid, design Henriëtte Waal, Sophie Krier and Billy Ernst, 2024.

Encourage better learning and contribute to student well-being by creating innovative learning environments outdoors, in the midst of greenery. That is the goal of Outdoor Learning Spaces (OLS), born from a need of teachers and students. Future Learning Spaces (FLS) develops these inspiring and unique places for various learning activities in the Botanical Gardens. In a beautiful, serene place by the water, connected to nature, teachers can teach, students can learn and groups of students can collaborate.


Students expressed a desire to see more greenery and be outdoors during their studies. Learning environments in green areas contribute to the well-being of students and teachers, both physically and mentally. Outdoor learning stimulates creativity and conversation, allows for activating, student-centered learning activities in an informal atmosphere without hierarchy between teacher and students. Several factors have also been found in the literature showing that Outdoor Learning Spaces have a positive effect on well-being and academic performance.

Intended result

Scale model, design Henriëtte Waal, Sophie Krier and Billy Ernst, 2024. Photo design team.

Based on the literature, several separate elements are being developed. Together they form a pathway, which teachers and students can use separately or combined. The starting point is that these elements invite active (learning) activities, interaction, are accessible and can be used by students, teachers, staff and visitors of the Botanical Gardens. The facilities are suitable for both formal and informal learning and invite general public use.

Where does the project stand now?

Extrusion drawing, design Henriëtte Waal, Sophie Krier and Billy Ernst, 2024. Photo design team.

FLS worked with the Botanical Gardens (in line with their plans) and V&C to explore options for developing Outdoor Learning Spaces. Together with students, teachers and an external design team of artists, ideas were further developed. A beautiful spot was chosen in the Botanical Gardens where the first Outdoor Learning Space will be located. A unique and innovative design has been created, with the choice of materials and planting being an integral part of the concept.

The technical drawings are being further developed and reviewed and any permits applied for. This Outdoor Learning Space is expected to be completed in February 2025.  All UU teachers can reserve this OLS, within Botanical Gardens opening hours . The other elements of the pathway will follow later.