NSW UTS Building 5, Blocks A & B Teaching and Learning Spaces
The ground floor of UTS Building 5, Blocks A & B, has been transformed into a series of informal teaching and learning spaces for the next generation of learners. They enable a spectrum of learning activities from formal collaborative tasks, experimental teaching, to focused individual study or simply as a place to just hang out.
Woods Bagot & University of Technology Sydney
Winner Category 3 – Renovation / Modernisation / Over $2M
UTS Sydney, Darling Drive, Haymarket, NSW Australia
Georgia Singleton / Jo Dane
The project was initiated to address a gap in the provision of learning spaces at UTS. Students fed back to UTS that they wanted places where they could study informally, spaces that were less formal than existing library spaces, but more structured than café-type spaces. The concept of the ‘sticky campus’ arose out of the briefing process, challenging the design team to create spaces that would encourage students to stay on campus for longer.
As a result of consultation with the user groups a Value Proposition emerged which encapsulated the brief. We aimed to “create a teaching and learning environment that attracts students and enhances collaborative and individual learning approaches.” Following the briefing process, and drawing upon our experience of designing education environments, we conceptualised a spectrum of learning spaces that would meet a variety of students’ needs: A) open and enclosed spaces for collaborating: brainstorming, knowledge-sharing, research, debate, production and presentation rehearsal; B) places for respite during intense periods of study, where students can plug in and play video games, watch movies, listen to music or even have a sleep; C) quiet places for individual, focused study, where you can activate a laptop or other mobile device, or simply read in a comfortable chair; and D) outdoor spaces where students could either study or socialise in a sheltered, pleasa nt environment.
The physical environment is essentially made up of two distinct internal spaces that wrap around an unseen carpark. One area (Block B) originated as a dark, ‘grungy’ environment with a very low ceiling. The other area (Block A) had an abundance of natural light adjacent an under-utilised courtyard. The two areas were linked by a narrow thoroughfare. The diametrically opposed spatial characteristics presented an opportunity to create a dichotomy of learning spaces to suit the existing conditions. Block B was conceptualised as a dark space for noisy group learning opportunities, with students able to access a range of different media and screen-based technologies, and with a variety of open and enclosed meeting rooms. The centre of the dark space was developed as the ‘sand-pit’ where teachers could experiment with aspects of their teaching practice. Block A was conceptualised as a light space where quiet activities were anticipated, such as working on laptops, working in pairs and reading. The light space opens on to a courtyard which was developed as an outdoor learning space.