Celebrating Kenn Fisher's contributions to LEaRN

After over a decade with the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN), Associate Professor Kenn Fisher is finishing his part-time role with our Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. We celebrate Kenn’s successes and contributions to our understanding of learning space design and occupation.

Thank you to Kenn Fisher

Kenn is recognised as a leading learning environment specialist practising internationally and has been commissioned by over 40 universities in Australia and overseas, over a dozen vocational training and community college clients and many international and Australian schools and corporate identities, the latter designing academies for workplace pedagogies. He was Head of the OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments in Paris in 1997/8.

Kenn has combined his role as a research and teaching academic with consulting in learning and health environment planning and design. He brings a focus on research informing practice and vice versa. His work as a translational designer (Norman, 2010) has been pivotal to the emergence and ongoing successes of the LEaRN team. In additional to his PhD in education, Kenn was awarded a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) from Deakin University in recognition of his work in this specialised field.

Kenn has been a researcher on LEaRN’s first four Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects running continuously from 2007 until now. The first ARC Linkage Project, called Smart Green Schools (2007-2010), was informed by his seminal doctoral thesis (2002) and work with education departments such as his 2005 publication for the Department of Education and Training in Victoria, Linking Pedagogy and Space. From that ARC research, Fisher and Dovey’s 2014 socio-spatial assemblage diagrams influenced later ARC research including the Innovative Learning Spaces and Teacher Change (ILETC) surveys and technical reports led by Professor Wes Imms from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

In 2008, Kenn was instrumental in establishing LEaRN obtaining support from the Deans of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) and the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning (ABP). Kenn and I co-developed the LEaRN business plan in 2008 which, serendipitously, coincided with unprecedented school infrastructure funding from the Federal Government in response to the global financial crisis. LEaRN has supported, and been supported by, many excellent researchers and key industry partners. Ben Cleveland, for example, won a scholarship to undertake a PhD in the Smart Green Schools project, was appointed as LEaRN’s Research Fellow, was promoted into a senior lecturer role and has most recently led his own ARC Linkage Project.

Kenn has continued to advise and provide leadership for the LEaRN initiative and research. Kenn led a major research consultancy on Hong Kong hospitals through LEaRN. Most recently, Kenn and I co-developed a proposal for a Graduate Certificate in Design for Health and Wellbeing. This aligns with Kenn’s teaching focus of translational research and opportunities for co-designers to work across disciplinary boundaries. Currently Kenn’s research is focusing on biophilic urbanism linking space, health and wellbeing (see Kenn's latest article on Biophilic Design Framework, presented at ANZAScA 2019).

See below to a selection of Kenn’s publications over the years.

Kenn has supported, supervised and examined many PhD students and taught a large number of undergraduate students in the subjects of Human Environment Relations and Building the Brief. With thanks to Kenn, there are now many more educators, bureaucrats and designers who are well informed on learning space design. I thank Kenn personally for the contributions he has made to my career and also on behalf of LEaRN colleagues who have benefitted from his expertise and focus on evidence-based design.

- Written by Associate Professor Clare Newton

A/Prof Kenn Fisher's Publications


Fisher, K. Ed. (2019). The translational design of universities: an evidence-based approach to aligning pedagogy and learning environments. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers.

Fisher, K., Imms, W. & Cleveland, B. Eds. (2016). Evaluating Learning Environments. Sense Publishers. Rotterdam.

Fisher, K. Ed. (2016). The translational design of schools: an evidence-based approach to aligning pedagogy and learning environments. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers.

Newton, C. & Fisher. K., Eds. (2009). Take 8: Learning Spaces: The transformation of educational spaces for the 21stC. Australian Institute of Architects Take Series. Melbourne, Australian Institute of Architects.

Book Chapters

Fisher, K. N., J. (2018). The Missing Link: Aligning Blended Curricula with Physical Learning Spaces in Health Interprofessional Education. Spaces of Teaching and Learning: Integrating Perspectives on Research and Practice. Goodyer, P. Singapore, Springer Nature.

Ellis, R. & Fisher, K. (2017). Translating translational research on space design from the health sector to higher education: lessons learned, and challenges revealed. Place-based spaces for networked learning. Eds. Carvalho, P. & de Laat, M. New York, Routledge.

Fisher, K. (2016). Academic Factors in Campus Planning: Part 4.4 Conclusions: What is not yet being answered by evaluation? Future Campus. I. Taylor. London, RIBA Publishing.

Fisher, K., Cleveland, B. & Imms, W. (2016). Evaluating Learning Environments: Snapshots of Emerging Issues, Methods and Knowledge. Rotterdam. Sense.

Fisher, K. (2016). The translational design of learning environments. In The translational design of schools: an evidence-based approach to aligning pedagogy and learning environments. Ed. K. Fisher. Rotterdam, Sense Publishers.

Journal Articles

Backhouse, S., Newton, C., Fisher, K., Cleveland, B. & Caccarella, L. (2019). Rethink: Interdisciplinary evaluation of academic workspaces. Architectural Science Association Proceedings. Roukee. India.

Fisher, K. (2019). An Evidence-Based Biophilic Design Framework for Health and Wellbeing. Architectural Science Association Proceedings. Roukee. India.

Fisher, K. & Oliver., G. (2015). "Small footprint, global impact: The Australian Science and Mathematics School." Australian Institute of Architects Feb, 2015.

Fisher, K. & Singleton, G. (2014). Transforming the 21stC Campus in a Globalised World. HERDSA Hong Kong. HERDSA. Hong Kong.

Abbasi, N., Fisher, K., Gerrity, R. & Tucker, R. (2014). Evaluation of University of Queensland Library Spaces: three case studies at St Lucia Campus. Australian Library and Information Association Conference. An International Journal Volume 17(Number 1): 30.

Cleveland, B. & Fisher, K. (2014). "The evaluation of physical learning environments: a critical review of the literature." Learning Environments Research

Dovey, K. & Fisher, K. (2014). "Designing for adaptation: the school as socio-spatial assemblage." The Journal of Architecture Vol 19(1): 43-63.

Fisher, K. & Newton, C. (2014). "Transforming the twenty-first-century campus to enhance the net-generation student learning experience: using evidence-based design to determine what works and why in virtual/physical knowledge environments. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. Auckland.

Fisher, K. (2013). Transforming Design Thinking Through the Translational Design of Learning and teaching spaces." Higher Education Research & Development Journal http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2014.890566: 20.

Fisher, K. (2010). "Technology-enabled active learning environments: an appraisal." CELE Exchange - OECD Centre of Effective Learning Environments Journal: 9.

Fisher, K. (2007). Ne(x)t Gen Learning Environments. Building Excellence: exploring the implications of the curriculum for excellence for school buildings. Edinburgh, The Scottish Government: 10.

Fisher, K. (2007). The New Learning Environment: The Campus as Thirdspace. Conference of Australian University Directors of Information Technology. C.A.U.D.I.T. Melbourne, CAUDIT: 8.

Fisher, K., Ed. (2005). Learning Environments in Tertiary Education. TEFMA Conference Proceedings. Brisbane, TEFMA.

Fisher, K. (2005). "Research into measuring the effectiveness of learning environments." OECD Programme on Educational Building.

Fisher, K. (2004). "Revoicing Classrooms: a spatial manifesto." Forum 46(1): 3.

Fisher, K. (2001). Building Better Outcomes: The Impact of School Infrastructure on Student Outcomes and Behaviour. D.E.T.Y.A. Australian Government: Department of Education. Canberra.

Fisher, K. (2000). Making Better Use of School Buildings: Schools as Social Capital. The Appraisal of Investments in Educational Facilities. OECD. Paris, OECD Publications: 24.

Fisher, K., Gilding, P., Jamieson, P., Taylor, P., & Trevitt, C. (2000). "Place and Space in the Design of New Learning Environments." HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development 19(2): 14.