With or without “Brexit” the higher education scene globally is changing. The problem that we all face whether we live in the UK or elsewhere is that the impact of change is difficult to predict, yet the changes could have profound implications on how we use or develop higher education learning environments.
Architectural design in one way is a scenario of the future. This is from the end of year show at the Department of Architecture, University of Westminster
A way to explore this is through the use of scenarios – a sort of hypothetical alternative reality.
Here is a scenario to think about. It is based on one I developed for a project I was working on back in 2008 looking at the future of higher education:
Can we describe what an intelligent modern learning environment should be like? By intelligent, I mean buildings that are designed to support teaching and learning and those who use them. I think that we can.
Stonefields School, Auckland, New Zealand
I have been reflecting on how we encapsulate what a modern and intelligent learning environment should be like and thought I would share some broad brush criteria. To a large extent there are some linkages between them all, but it may be interesting to think about the relevance of each. They aren’t in a particular order and perhaps they could be thought of as different perspectives from which to challenge the space(s).
Strong client leadership, a clear and well articulated innovative vision for education, and iconic architect Frank Gehry promises to do more than just raise the profile of the business school at University of Technology, Sydney. There are lessons for all of us.
The scaffolding is now coming off Frank Gehry’s new building for the new business school at the University of Technology, Sydney. (c) Roy Green
What is really important about this project is not just the architecture itself, but the deliberate strategy of rethinking the approach to business school education before getting started on the building design. Continue reading
If students cannot hear, how can they learn? Why is sound such a difficult issue in schools?
Is this an effective way of taking control of a problem that should not exist?
Imagine that you are sitting in the middle of the room and all you can hear is a garbled “mash” from the teacher. You don’t know what has been said, are you being asked a question? Or, given an important piece of information? If you are reasonably extrovert, you might ask someone else. If you are at all shy, you may well keep quiet to avoid looking stupid amongst your peers. Continue reading
I saw a television interview today with a head teacher talking about a new school that he had designed. Then as an aside he said: “… of course I designed it with the architect”. Many might worry about this – but they shouldn’t.
Good environments are not designed by just one person, but as a co-creative project with the participation of those who will use it. Indeed design is a continuous process, with the environment being adapted (re-designed) to meet changing hourly or daily needs. A good building design enables this to happen, it enables users to continue long after the architect has departed. Continue reading
A sustainable school or university is about the role of education itself. But at a time when the temptation is to cut expenditure right back we still need to make sure that it supports the decisions that we still seem to be delegating to the next generation.
The Earth at night shows the intensity of energy use
A former colleague of mine, Yamina Saheb, Head of the Sustainable Building Centre at the International Energy Agency (IEA) has a dream. It is that one day energy savings will be a marketable commodity – so profitable that everyone will be clamouring to buy and sell them making it totally unnecessary to impose legislation on energy requirements of products and buildings. She hopes that generation ‘Y’ will make her dream a reality. But the ability of this generation to respond depends on the role of education that we put in place. Today we are educating the policy makers for tomorrow and we need to help them make better choices.
Universities create the life force of many towns, cities and regional economies. They foster places for knowledge exchange both within the student and research communities, but also between these and the wider community and business. They provide the nourishment that the city needs to survive.
Plaza of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico
(Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla)
Stimulating ideas, creativity and knowledge exchange
Many studies such as the OECD’s programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education into the role of higher education in local and regional economies, show the importance of universities in terms of knowledge creation and exchange, underpinning innovation through research and contributing to the development of skills in the local economies. Universities can also play an important role in regenerating urban areas by creating a focus for activity.
Why is the physical environment for higher education still important when arguably with the emergence of online learning and digital access, students do not need to leave their own homes?
Creating spaces that make connections
We are, as is so often pointed out, in a world where the focus is increasingly on personalisation. In healthcare gene therapy is tailored to treat specific conditions unique to a specific person; people can order cars or computers with specific features determined before production; and of course education where students expect that educators will meet their own specific needs at a time that suits them. Continue reading
Nobel prize winners can teach us a thing or two about creating effective learning environments that support the creative economy.
Inspiring children to learn science at the Science Centre, University of Lund, Sweden: 15 000 primary to secondary school children visit every year to learn about science from university students
A Swedish researcher, Ola Thufvesson, has analysed the biographies of 486 Nobel Laureates to understand what their backgrounds can tell us about how they came to be such creative and innovative thinkers, and what the link may be with the physical environment. Continue reading