Year 1 Update —
Schools are at the center of our communities. These institutions are also one of the first buildings outside of the home with which we all engage. However, most research into schools has focused on what is taught and how it is communicated rather than on the physical environments where learning and teaching occur (Walden 2015). Children and teachers spend a considerable amount of time in these institutions and governments continually spend vast budgets on the construction and upkeep of schools. So, it is important to uncover what contributes to the quality of these spaces in the community. 
Internal discussions within our group suggests there are many different ideas about what this might mean across multiple scales. To support these different perspectives the research mobilizes Henri Lefebvre’s work on space to consider the myriad aspects of how the built environments impact everyday life.
According to Lefebvre, understanding space requires simultaneously studying the perceived, conceived, and lived conditions of space (Lefebvre 1991; Lefebvre et al. 2003; Stanek 2011, 2014). We call this the tripartite reading of space. Perceived space involves understanding physical space. Conceived space (2) involves uncovering the conscious ideas that designers use to create the space. Lived space (2) describes the experiences and encounters that occur within and around the space. All three readings of space are necessary to understand the quality of our built environments. 
Study Matrix: Each case study will be studied and mapped in multiple ways and at multiple scales. This matrix will be used to see and compare across a series of variables. All the selected schools are high schools (or at least have high school students within them). They are all within the same school district, but one is urban, one suburban, and one rural.
Regional Scale: At the scale of the region this study involves understanding how the building is part of broader social and cultural networks.
Site Scale: At the scale of the site ethnographic methods are invaluable for exploring how end users engage with the built environment. Direct observation, which can include behaviour mapping, sketching, photography, and note-taking, can help map out how people move through the space and what activities they do in each of its constituent zones. This helps the researcher see what works as intended and what doesn’t, and what creative or unanticipated uses people make of the space.
Building Scale: At the scale of the building the research uses participant observation – where the researcher moves through and stays in the space with end users and records those experience through notes and sketches. This can give a sense of the unspoken affordances and limitations of the space.
Room Scale: Recording spaces at different moments in time much can tell us much about the lived experiences of the building. Is the space being used as intended? Conversations, ranging from casual chats to in-depth semi-structured interviews, can delve into what the space means to end users, and how it accrues use value and affective associations to become a place. These meanings can be consensual, conflicting, or plural. All these methods yield data that can be compared with the back-stories on the space, architects’ original intentions for it, and its historical, geographic, and demographic context, to find out whether different actors’ understandings of ‘quality in the built environment’ are commensurate with each other. 
Dissemination —

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