Monday, 4 May 2009

Corridors of Dour

Sigh. I won't name the university - it is full of good and well meaning folk - but this endless, dreadful, soulless corridor exemplifies what is an absolute crisis of mismatch between the new 21st century schools, mostly corridor free, agile, full of community and collegiality, designed for a broad portfolio of learning styles, that are springing up all round the world - and the frankly dreadful Higher Education buildings that are appearing in parallel.

I was talking to an HE conference, by video link, just recently and mentioned that HE buildings are too often the analog product of a room allocation spreadsheet, so that the cells of the spreadsheet become the cells into which students are decanted, linked by ghastly productivity-corridors. All the emphasis is on moving people and knowing who is in (and thus should be paying for) each space - no sense of what might be effective for learning at all. I added that architects find designing these cells mind numbingly boring, so they usually add a flourish - typically a grand atrium. And often a sponsor kindly gave the money for all this, so a "statement" entrance, with sponsors name prominently displayed, is a final touch. The conference folk laughed a lot and for an unpextedly long time. I was puzzled but an email later explained: they had just had a presentation of the drawings of a proposed new building... with cells, corridors, atrium and grand entrance. Oh dear.

If UK HE is to survive in a global world, the design of our learning spaces will be a major contributor to that survival...

1 comment:

User.One said...

I agree. Limited by physicalities with no concept, or rather limited acknowledging of the potential for distributed media, it can only be a matter of time before the network as a whole embraces a more hertzian nature and the solid nature of learning dissipates. Pervasive learning? Who knows.
All the best.