How are university buildings evolving to accommodate new ways of teaching and learning? Alexi Marmot will be addressing this question when she speaks at next month’s Education Estates conference in Manchester http://www.educationestates.com/conference/
Alexi will describe how AMA helped to articulate and deliver a new vision for the Commons building at Bath Spa University. Design Director David Jenkin led the interior strategy, consultation and design. Commons is a fascinating, flexible and innovative new facility. Designed by Cube Design and opened in 2014 by David Puttnam, it is the university’s largest building at 8,000 sq m and the hub of the Newton Park campus.
|Lord Puttnam opening the Commons building |
Commons was conceived as a different type of university building. Providing learning, teaching and meeting spaces, staff work bases and major specialist digital studios, it needed to be highly flexible, fit for the current and next generation of students and staff.
|Different furniture and space types encouraging a range |
The university recognised that a different approach was needed for the shell and the interior, says Alexi: “Both architectural and interior workstreams maintained an inventive and collaborative approach, allowing each to focus on their different domains: one on the building fabric to create a robust shell, naturally ventilated, energy efficient, and the other on end users and anticipating future change in university activities.”
The new building represents quite radical change for the university. Staff and students share the same building, and many of the same facilities. Academic staff work in a club-type zone with few conventional workplaces, none individually owned. Elsewhere, teaching rooms are interspersed with breakout and group study areas in local hubs. Interactive group learning spaces, individual and quiet study areas, are provided generously on the ground floor alongside a design lab, recording studio, and large flexible conference room.
|Part contained spaces provide some intimacy|
“The new building was immediately popular with students following its launch in mid-2014,” says Alexi, “and is full of their energy and enthusiasm.” Commons was a runner-up in the Buildings that Inspire category of the Guardian’s University Awards this year http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/mar/19/buildings-that-inspire-category-award-winner-and-runners-up