Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Capacity Question

There is no doubt that when attempting to re-design learning and teaching environments in older buildings the capacity of the room is a major obstacle. I do not refer to large raked lecture theatres in this post.

These rooms are generally several decades old and were designed for a pedagogy of the 60s and 70s when it was simply a case of getting as many bums on seats as possible. They have  not kept up with developments in teaching style, advances in technology or the expectations of staff and particularly students in these days of £9000 per annum fees.

If a university has plenty of  excess rooms, of an appropriate size, the problem is easily solved. However the reality is usually that there are not enough spare rooms and the ones that are being redesigned need to reduce the existing capacity if an improvement is to be achieved. If the existing capacity of the rooms is still required to achieve the needs of the time table the designer is presented with a very difficult dilemma to resolve.

In my experience most rooms designed more than 10 yrs ago, and sadly sometimes later than that, are 30 % over capacity to deliver what most learning space designers would consider adequate environments.

Here is a typical example of classrooms I have seen at dozens of universities :


I have discussed this problem with several colleagues involved in learning space design in the HE sector across the UK and internationally and this is a recurring theme.

If anyone has any solutions for this dilemma I would be pleased to hear them.

 

4 comments:

  1. Hi Nigel. Great post - it's a major issue.

    At Lincoln, we've introduced a standard allowance of 2.30 sq m floor area per student for new seminar rooms. Having a standard is great because we can impose it on new projects, and it allows us to quickly specify room size requirements for a given capacity, or capacity for a given room size. We think 2.30 is optimal for our approach to teaching and learning, and it permits quite a few different layout styles.

    The downside is that we couldn't afford to implement this across the estate in a "Big Bang" - we just wouldn't be able to accommodate the timetable. We are having to transition gradually over several years.

    Sam Williams
    Space Planning & Strategy Manager
    University of Lincoln
    http://lncn.eu/learn
    sawilliams@lincoln.ac.uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. PS. I've used this graphic by DEGW in many conversations to persuade people of the need for this. Sometimes people give more credence to these arguments when they're coming from consultants... http://learninglandscapes.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/files/2013/04/DEGW-impact-of-flexible-learning-on-space-requirements.png

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the Posts Sam
    The graphic is very helpful and the sq mt allowance is similar to my allowance. I need to get this accepted as policy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the Posts Sam
    The graphic is very helpful and the sq mt allowance is similar to my allowance. I need to get this accepted as policy.

    ReplyDelete

Follow by Email