Flashy University Buildings: Do They Live Up To The Hype?

According to the late Sir David Watson, universities could be viewed as property companies with education as an add-on. Estate-related issues consume vast amounts of time, money, and heated debates in universities. Below are some notable points to consider regarding university buildings:

1. Some buildings end up attracting criticism and controversy. They appear bizarre, kinky, and fail to serve their purpose as architectural icons that attract talents in academic institutions.

2. University leaders bring together powerful combinations of "starchitects" and wealthy sponsors eager to fund flagship buildings bearing their names.

3. Universities aim to break down conventions, which is why starchitects often play with the ideas of crumbling buildings, irregular shapes, and angular geometries.

4. University buildings can stimulate better teaching, learning, and research. However, there is a need for more research on "post-occupancy evaluation," which determines how the buildings are perceived by the people who use them.

5. The available research shows that 86% of undergraduates are satisfied with their learning resources. Still, staff members are generally less satisfied with their facilities, which might negatively impact their research and teaching.

6. Although there is a growing trend in architecturally green and sustainable buildings, actual energy use and carbon emissions are double that predicted at the design stage.

In conclusion, university buildings play a vital role in attracting talents and creating conducive environments for learning, teaching, and research. Therefore, there is a need for more extensive research on post-occupancy evaluation to determine how to create better university buildings that serve their purpose while fulfilling the objectives of the university.

When queried about their opinions, students often express dissatisfaction with the poor indoor air quality and temperature. They also emphasize the necessity for additional spaces to collaborate with their peers and access to more computers and computer rooms. Their vision includes areas dedicated to experimental creativity and social learning, available for use 24 hours a day.

Regardless of age, universities must continually evolve to meet evolving demands. The capacity for flexibility and adaptability over time remains one of the most invaluable traits of higher education buildings.

In fact, architecture of European universities has lasted for more than a millennium, and over 800 years in the UK, while experiencing significant growth over the last century. This trend continues, despite the rise of online learning. The success and longevity of universities relies on the availability of adaptable buildings, based on thorough and reliable research.

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  • owengriffiths

    Owen Griffiths is 35 years old and a blogger and teacher. He has written about education for over 10 years and has a passion for helping others learn.