From sustainability to technology integration, the current trends leading the market are not particularly new, but they’ve taken far more solid shape lately. Their effects on the design of a space are tangible, and countable. It’s as though tablet-based learning and social space-oriented layouts were fighting for the limelight for years, but now, their place in the industry, in many recent or upcoming projects, and in the general conscience of architects, developers and clients has finally been accepted.
At a roundtable with RSP’s Ralf Steinhauer, GAJ’s Jason Burnside and B+H Architects’ Phillip Jones, the architects noted that students are expected to bring tablets with them to school now. The technology, which connects to the interactive touchscreen televisions that are replacing traditional blackboards, allows for new student-teacher dynamics.
“Of course this is really only in regards to schools in the private sector, but the tablets allow the teachers to monitor their pupils’ progress and provides better insight into how each student is doing,” he said.
“And the technology is being used in a more clever way, because the way things are going in schools mimics the way they now operate in workplaces. Things are a lot more collaborative and interactive, so these spaces require flexibility.”
During a visit to Khalifa University, which is planning to open the doors to its new multi-building extension, designed by RSP, this September, we took note of the charging stations that frequent the corners of the interior spaces. Its architectural language, too, reflects the recent appreciation for greater connectivity between faculty and students. The design of the extension itself is inspired by the energy typically found in a learning centre, and the flexibility of the spaces allow the buildings to continue adapting.
“Everything also has to be flexible,” RSP director Ralf Steinhauer said. “One classroom can be an office, or a wet lab, or a dry lab… So the idea, or the challenge, was to give the students a reason to stick around even if they weren’t in class.”