In recent years we’ve seen universities around Australia come to the collective realisation about the value in architecture – not just in promotion, but rather in engaging their student body.
While we may have questioned the value of architecture and design in higher education environments (in the age of online learning, who needs a physical campus?), universities are increasingly deploying new approaches to designing the learning environment in a bid to attract the best students. After all, in the bigger picture, education's export revenue in Australia reached over $20 billion in recent years and, consequently, the strength of our high education prowess has prompted federal governments to take note:
"International education is already one of our top two services exports, along with tourism, and is one of five key super-growth sectors that will support our transitioning economy into the next decade.
The growing importance of international education to Australia is evident from the more than 130,000 jobs it creates and the businesses that benefit from it – directly and indirectly across the retail, hospitality, property sectors and more."
Outstripping tourism, manufacturing and healthcare in one fell swoop, higher education has emerged in recent years as the third-largest export behind coal and iron ore. As a result, our universities are in the throes of mass (re-)development. Throwing caution to the winds of budget cuts and fee deregulation (that in the past decade has kept universities in a state of precariousness), consolidation, expansion and mass improvements to educational facilities are becoming increasingly necessary.
What we are observing more and more is that in these reimagined educational environments, current design thinking places increased importance on mindfulness for the end-user. Under the moniker of 'sticky design', such universities aim provide students and staff with functional, attractive and smart learning environments that promote all stakeholders to linger.
Good space is somewhere we want to be, whether or not it’s a requirement. For a long time, people hypothesised about the future of libraries – long seen as permanent bastions of knowledge and wisdom – in an increasingly digital world. Would we want to be somewhere that may no longer be seen as necessary?
Queensland University of Technology hypothesised about the same conundrum, to which their answer is the new Gardens Point Library (GPL).
The GPL redefines the traditional notion of the library, placing more emphasis on the end-user and the potential of the space for collaboration and cross-disciplinary interaction. The library does this by offering formal and informal learning spaces in the form of glazed office-style meeting rooms, freestanding pods and booth meeting areas, featuring the practical and stylish US modular lounge system by our very own Boss Design.
Of course, all of the essentials are provided. Seating, power points, Wi-Fi (what kind of library would it be without Wi-Fi?). However, sticky design works by offering something for everyone: providing a series of different spaces or even something as simple as the suggestion of spaces, and leaving the rest to their audience’s personal preferences.
In addition to the bare necessities is a well-considered acoustic environment – not always a given, unfortunately, – the latest AV and data systems, along with rearrangeable furniture and a contemporary colour palette, illuminated with panel lights embedded cleverly within the concrete waffle slab, so that the Library becomes a place students want to be; not simply a relic to past ages.
Visit our Project Page for more detail.