Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version



Robb, Isabel. Coarse-Work: An Investigation into the Impact of Materiality in the Interior Educational Setting. Undergraduate Honors Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2024.


Copyright Isabel Robb 2024


Education design in modern suburban America curates learning environments that are cold and impersonal, being used more as a place to keep youth during the day than as a place where they can truly learn about and understand the world around them. This learning environment does not suit all students, especially those with learning disabilities, and it leaves little room for flexibility in classroom usage.

Focusing on creating a learning environment where all students feel welcome and are able to effectively learn, this projective design research project aims to provide a comprehensive intervention through the built environment and interior design, specifically through materiality and spatial layouts. Some conditions of materiality that are identified and explored in this study are color psychology, impact of material tactility on cognitive development, and impact of color and tactility on students with learning disabilities. Spatial layout and movement within schools is also considered and explored.

This study takes on the form of an exploration of a prototypical suburban middle school, with three programs called out. These programs—classrooms, a media center, and a maker space—are examined and critiqued for their existing conditions on the prototypical site and subsequently redesigned to address the problems stated previously. This design serves as a reminder that learning environments should be designed with all users in mind, regardless of ability. It stands as an exploration of how materiality can have a direct impact on students, and how future designs can use materiality as a guide.