Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)

Today I visited RMIT. It was an unplanned visit but Chris Barnes at Monash had recommended I visit building 9. So I did. Here is a Wiki link
I was wandering around looking lost when a friendly academic asked if he could help. The bottom line is a very nice woman from reception then took me to some spaces that were not in use, she did get clearance. I should have asked their names but it was all a bit strange and impromptu. Many thanks to both.
Anyway as usual pics and explanations.

This is a basic room in many ways but adaptable. The next picture shows why. The technology, as far as I could tell, is 4 large screens a projector controlled by AMX.

 The tables stack. This allows, not only for reconfiguration of tables but, for the opening up of most of the floor space as a work area.
 I loved this space. it reminded me of kiddies building blocks. Just out of shot on the left a group of three students were seated on the floor collaborating. They had books, pads, computers, bags etc. all around them and looked busy but content. The table in shot must have been used in some manner but is removable.
Note the clock. A very important feature sometimes overlooked.

 This is a teaching space. It looks quite impressive but has some issues. The ceiling is funky but I was unable to see what lighting control there is.

 The table is very similar to Peter's tear drop shape. He might like to comment on this. However you will notice a gap separating the segments. This was originally to house laptops side on. This has not happened and the computer facility has been addressed in another way. (See below)
 Note that the whole wall is a writing surface.
 This is how the computing is dealt with. Someone comes to the room unlocks the cage and distributes the laptops. At the end of the class they are collected and re-secured.  This is replicated in other rooms.
 As you can see there are large screens mounted around the room. I am guessing that the content of teacher and or student can be distributed to these via the AMX. The chairs were on casters and very manoeuvrable. I thought the room had perhaps one too many tables but we all know the pressure to put bums on seats.

 This is a pod in the PG centre.
 This is similar to the earlier pic. It is a lovely, versatile space within the PG centre
 My overall impression was a good one I really liked the kiddies block area and the stackable tables but there were one or two things that, with a little more thought, I think would have improved the building. The laptop situation was strange and has resulted in an unnecessarily cumbersome way of dealing with it. It also occurs to me that if there was permanent computing provision the rooms could be used by students when not used for teaching, but that may not be RMIT's policy.
The other thing that concerned me was the lack of colour.  Go back up the photographs to see what I mean. The spaces are very sterile. I think I notice this more because this is a mistake we made at Aberystwyth when we refurbished the Rosser Lounge (see below). Of course this may be the desired look at RMIT but for me it needed a lift.

After visiting building 9 I wandered around outside.
Here is a very nice space with the synthetic grass again but also a very nice decking area.
 This next space was buzzing.
 I was not sure if this was to keep students in or public out! Check out the sign above again.
 Actually it is a public area and was being well used. There was music being played and barbecues being served. It is obviously a very popular area

1 comment:

  1. Re the 'teardrop' tables in the RMIT project.... yes, I was involved in this as the Learning Environment Designer. The tables were altered from their standard form to meet certain needs, including the provision of a 'slot' at each corner point to provide storage for a laptop computer. My own view is that the alterations actually work against the inherent strength of the original design, as the more prominent 'legs' holding the table, and in which the laptop storage is located, actually impede the easy movement around the table which the original design enables. I am sure many would also think, as I do, that the slots running across the table top are not desirable. I did not, and still don't, favour this adaptation but others might...but it is important to learn from this attempt to do something different.


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