Today, it is widely acknowledged that the quality of physical learning environments is directly related to the quality of education. Hence, the structure and characteristics of school buildings and physical learning environments are determined by the requirements of pedagogy. This study is considered to be important in terms of understanding pedagogical fundamentals that shape the physical learning environments of 21st-century primary schools. This study aims to provide a holistic perspective on the pedagogical foundations that guide the building design and physical learning environments of primary schools. The pedagogical foundations of primary school buildings were subsumed under two main categories, i.e. 'child-friendly design' and 'design for learning'. Appropriate designs of the physical learning environment concerning these pedagogical principles were spaces that are child-scale, interactive open, purposed as teaching tools, flexible, and community-connected. Some suggestions were introduced to rethink the physical learning environments of primary schools. Learning environments should be designed by social interaction and different learning objectives, in various sizes, and including common areas where the whole school community will come together. Schools' learning environments should be flexible to meet the expectations of developing pedagogy. Physical learning environments should take learning beyond classrooms and be functional. The open spaces of the schools should be interactive and host community-based events.