Case study: Creating inspiring and adaptive learning spaces for Abbotsleigh’s young minds

With the future of young people and the planet they’ll inherit in mind, Koskela was briefed to provide furniture solutions for Abbotsleigh’s new library and science buildings that would inspire young minds and embody the school’s sustainability ambitions.

Research has shown that flexible and adaptable study environments can make a big difference when it comes to best-practice teaching and learning.

So when Koskela was asked to design the school furniture solutions for three projects at Abbotsleigh – a Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 Anglican day and boarding school for girls located on Sydney’s North Shore – we wanted to choose pieces that not only optimise flexible learning, but also delight and inspire young minds.

The project, led by AJC Architects, was to redesign the Junior School Library and Innovation Centre, the Senior School Centre for Science and Art, and the Senior School SSC Building – and do it in a way that genuinely embodied the school's sustainability ambitions.

Having worked with us before on classroom desking for Kambala school, AJC Architects were familiar with our collaborative and efficient way of working and trusted us to provide the right furniture solutions for Abbotsleigh. 

Koskela's philosophy on people, environment and product aligned very much with the Abbotsleigh Junior School values. Abbotsleigh's Principal Sally puts huge importance on kindness and really values people, and when we took her to Koskela, she fell in love as it really paired so well with what the school was trying to achieve. Everything from philosophy, to Koskela's unique design and materials made it a great partnership to bring out the best environment for their girls.

We also had a female led design team running the project at AJC, so it was wonderful to partner with a strong female led company for the Junior Girls School
- Michele Edens Senior Project Lead Design at AJC

After receiving renderings and floor plans, Koskela came up with solutions to fit each space.

This included a mix of catalogue items and custom-made furnishings, like slim desks for the art and science classrooms that were customised with bag hooks and a bolting system to connect the tables in clusters. This brings added flexibility to the space and makes it easy to bring students together.

“The flexibility of our Koskela Learn range is no accident,” says Koskela co-founder Sasha Titchkosky. “Three years of research and development went into creating the Koskela school furniture range, including testing in collaboration with teaching teams. The result is classroom furniture that consistently creates positive outcomes for teachers and students, both in primary and high school environments.”

All of the furniture – including desks, seating and screening elements – is adaptable and can be reconfigured to adjust to a range of different teaching and learning needs. 

For this project, we included a variety of chairs, sofas, stools, desks and tables to create different types of learning spaces – including finding a home for our Gulima Junior bean bags in the glow-worm ‘caves’, perfect for some quiet reading in the library.

The project was strengthened by shared values. Abbotsleigh takes its responsibility to future generations very seriously, and strives to make all of its buildings and activities sustainable. Given Koskela’s Australian-made furniture is designed for a circular economy rather than a linear one, and as Australia's first furniture B-Corp with over 20 years of experience behind us, the partnership felt like a perfect fit.

“Abbotsleigh and Koskela share a commitment to sustainability,” confirms Jenni Beaumont-Hunt, Executive Assistant to Abbosleigh’s Head of Junior School.

The whole project was collaborative in nature. Abbotsleigh’s Principal and Librarian even paid a visit to our showroom to get a feel for the pieces they would be buying. This joint effort between the school, the architects and our team ensured a smooth and simple process from start to finish.

Our newly purchased Koskela furniture has completely transformed our library, classroom and communal spaces, says Jenni. Both teachers and students are benefitting in so many ways as a result

The end result is a series of inspiring, healthy and adaptive learning spaces that attract and engage students and staff – all with sustainability at the heart.  

“Our newly purchased Koskela furniture has completely transformed our library, classroom and communal spaces,” says Jenni. “Both teachers and students are benefitting in so many ways as a result, and Koskela has been fantastic to work with throughout.”