Saturday, 29 March 2008

Spaces for learning, spaces for thinking?

In recent years there has been a lot of interest in the design of learning spaces with some really interesting examples appearing in educational institutions across the world of innovative approaches and greater recognition of the potential of group based learning. Some well known examples include the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University in which students can even inflate little 'pods' to have group meetings, London Metropolitan's new science lab or numerous other new learning centres in what used to be called libraries!

Interesting to see then, that when Google unveiled its new headquarters building in Zurich, bursting at the seems with the expected wacky, cool workplace features such as a slide into the canteen and pool tables (try playing them all day and I wonder what would happen!), they also built a space modelled on a traditional library with comfortable armchairs, a fireplace and plenty of books! Perhaps a realisation that the design and decor of the environment sets a tone for the activities that take place therein and the importance of 'slow time' and space to think amidst the seemingly headlong rush towards a mass, large-scale, industrialised model of educational 'delivery'.

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