Site and Place for Built Environments Learning

What makes a good site visit, and how are they best designed?

Site visits and place-based learning have long been fundamental to built environments education. These experiences offer future professionals opportunities to actively engage with contextual and spatial information. Emerging technological approaches extend the boundaries and representations of site to encompass both physical and virtual realities.

What does BEL+T investigate in this area?

BEL+T investigates the multiple affordances of site visits and place-based learning in built environments education. These include:

  • How site visits support specific learning objectives in different disciplines and year levels;
  • The impact of site-based learning on student engagement and satisfaction;
  • The role of site visits in promoting student agency and cohort building;
  • Strategies for integrating site visits into the broader learning design, including the use of virtual site visits as a complement to physical visits.

How are these contributing to high-quality and relevant learning experiences? 

Through our work, BEL+T reached the following outcomes:

  • A taxonomy for classifying site visits by teaching activities and learning aims,
  • Guidance on the complementary use of virtual and physical site visits within a broader learning design.
  • Guidance on effective approaches to the technical production of virtual site visits using a range of technological platforms, which afford varying site-based learning experiences.

What is next on the horizon?

Moving forward, BEL+T is committed to exploring new directions in site and place-based learning, including:

  • The role of site-based learning in support of interdisciplinary and creative education, and/or application to societal and environmental challenges;
  • Methodologies for advanced virtual site visits that allow for immersive and interactive experiences, such as the ability to actively engage with other users in virtual environments.
  • A focus on the role of site visits and place-based learning in supporting diverse and equitable learning experiences
  • The development of new approaches to assessment and feedback that support site-based learning outcomes
  • The potential for site-based learning to support lifelong learning and professional development in built environment disciplines.


  • A Taxonomy of Virtual Site Visits

    Drawing on exemplars and interviews with designers and educators, BEL+T wrote a journal article exploring the design of virtual site visits (VSVs) through the lens of teaching activities and learning aims. The resulting typology categorises VSVs into various types, including those that inspire and contextualize, those that demonstrate or demarcate, and those that ground abstract experiences via specific locations.

    This work suggests complementary roles for virtual and physical site visits within hybrid and flexible learning environments, even with the return of on-campus teaching. It is relevant to all educators looking to incorporate site experiences into their curricula for students, regardless of their location

  • BEL+T Virtual Site Visit Guides

    Informed by our extensive research and experience, BEL+T has developed a comprehensive set of resources to guide staff on creating virtual site visits (VSVs). The guides are designed to provide step-by-step instructions and best practices on producing effective VSVs, including advice on equipment, software, and techniques.

    Additionally, BEL+T has produced over 40 high-quality VSVs for ABP teaching staff, enabling students to engage with otherwise inaccessible environments and spatially contextualised site information. These VSVs spanned all disciplines and course levels, and have been accessed by an estimated 1633 students.

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