Today’s universities recognize that much of a student’s education happens outside the classroom. When students interact, exchange ideas and collaborate across disciplines with each other and with faculty, they become more creative and entrepreneurial.
This type of engagement requires flexible, collaborative, often informal spaces; however, traditional academic programming often doesn’t account for this style of learning. Efficiency — that is, the amount of space dedicated to academic programs like classrooms and faculty offices, excluding support spaces like corridors, stairwells and mechanical rooms — still drives many design decisions. Yet productive exchanges often occur in unprogrammed spaces like stairwells and hallways, where casual interactions naturally occur.
What we need is a different method of academic space planning. Not through expanding “inefficient” space — because few institutions can afford to spend money on spaces they can’t justify — but through a new way of programming for collaborative learning.