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The impact of experiential learning in designing buildings for adult education : a proposed interactive education and training centre in Durban.

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Due to the urgency in overcoming the unemployment epidemic in South Africa, vocational training institutions are very rigid in their approaches, serving to educate and train learners with minimal learner involvement. Learners are seen more-so as passive recipients, rather than active participants in a built learning environment that is meant to emphasise on “activity”. Hence, learners are not able to acquire the necessary tools towards a better life and employment opportunities. On that note, the aim of the research is to gain an understanding of “experiential learning”. The knowledge gained will be used to demonstrate a better understanding of how buildings for adult education should be designed. This will provide a new model for vocational training centres in South Africa, assisting in providing adult learners with the necessary tools for a better way of life and employment opportunities, not just for the present, but also for future growth, in a challenging socio-economic environment. The ability for adult learners to be involved in instructionally-based education (theoretical and practical) is discussed; collaborative learning and social connections are discussed as well; followed by the ability to “experience” the built learning environment – being “meaningful” to the users. Three theories have been identified, which all contribute to the research. The primary theory is an adult educational theory - “Experiential Learning Theory”. This is followed by secondary theories - “Social Constructivism of Knowledge” and “Genius Loci”. All of the theories are linked to their subsequent conceptual frameworks. The research initially draws on published literature pertaining to the theories and concepts. The precedent studies follows, analysing four existing successful built environments located abroad, which relates to the theories and concepts, as well as principles derived from the literature review. The study will eventually be located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It involves empirical research (observation and interviews), featuring two case studies within the suburban and township contexts, which are adult education and training centres. The culmination of this research will be the development of a final theoretical framework, the development of a detailed design brief comprising of site selection and a schedule of accommodation, followed by a design concept and the design of an Education and Training Centre for adults in Durban.


Masters in Architecture. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College 2014.


School buildings -- South Africa -- Durban -- Designs and plans., Education and training services industry -- South Africa -- Durban., Continuing education centers -- South Africa -- Durban., Theses -- Architecture., Education and Training Centre, Durban.