Friday 25 October 2013

Space meets Pedagogy: Design and Management of Innovative Learning Spaces

Alexi Marmot's keynote address at the Learning Spaces conference, University of South Wales this week,  was entitled: "Space meets Pedagogy: Design and Management of Innovative Learning Spaces". Organised by Dr Bella Arora, Chair of USW's pedagogic research group on learning spaces, this thoughtful and inspiring talk covered the impact of changes in higher education from educational economics, funding, globalisation, and e-learning as a disruptive innovation. She demonstrated the benefits of new learning spaces based on changed attitudes and behaviours, as well as new technology. The keynote finished with a plea for more respect for the client community of staff and students, to be consulted before designs are agreed, and helped through the process of behaviour change in new environments.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Light Touch Library Refurbishments

AMA’s David Jenkin gave a presentation on ‘Light Touch Library Refurbishments’ at AMA on Tuesday. He explained how AMA has been helping Southwark council to transform three of its libraries: Will Alsop’s iconic Peckham Library, Dulwich Library, and currently Blue Anchor Library in Bermondsey.

AMA has been able to improve library facilities these locations substantially, with modest budgets. Through rearranging of shelving, relocating help desks and other facilities, making better use of daylight, and providing some artwork, it was possible to alter the look and feel of these libraries significantly. Previously, this simple approach to design was employed for the refurbishment of John Harvard Library, which AMA led in 2009/10.

In stark contrast to most boroughs, Southwark Council has an ongoing programme to improve the quality of their libraries and have recently opened their new Canada Water Library, while Camberwell Library is under construction.

AMA has a wide range of expertise in library design, and was involved in  the design and renovation of public and university libraries at international, national, regional, and local scale.

Dulwich Library (left), Peckham library (centre and right)
Photos: C. Ford, M. Allport, X. McGinnly

‘Reimagining Academic Workspace’ Debate (2)

AMA hosted a well attended debate titled ‘Reimagining Academic Workspace’ last night. Around thirty academic and estates professionals debated the topic of academic workspace and the possible fate of individual offices in academia.

The discussion revolved around the issue of whether academic offices were likely to take the lead from the private sector, with shared workspace and hot-desking. Several issues were covered: student requirements for a ‘better club’ and 24/7 access, provision of social spaces, workspaces that foster interdisciplinarity, the irregular use of university buildings, academics’ desire to personalise their workspaces and their need for storage, the role of status, and the need for quiet workspaces.

As one discussant put it: “The search for the Holy Grail continues.”

A report on the debate will be posted here soon.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

‘Reimagining Academic Workspace’ Debate

On 16 October from 6pm, AMA will be hosting a debate titled ‘Reimagining Academic Workspace’ at the Royal College of General Practitioners. We will be discussing whether academics still need individual offices, or whether academic offices are likely to go the way of corporate workspace, towards shared offices and even hot-desking.

Does academic workspace need to be truly different? What new solutions are emerging? AMA will be delivering three brief presentations each championing a different perspective on the issues in order to start the discussion.

One view, still generally held by many academics, is that their needs are different from other office users. Others, though, think that academic offices are perhaps no different from other offices, so that academic workspace could be more open, collaborative and shared. How can the estates teams and academics best seek the solution suited to the circumstance?