Curiosities

How does architecture affect education?

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Life Magazine- Mies van der Rohe- Crown HallMies van der Rohe Teaching at Crown Hall, Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago)

Did you go to college? Then you surely have an opinion about how the building influenced your studies.

According to “Webometrics Ranking of World Universities“, there are around 21,000 universities in the world. And many more are currently under construction. This may reflect something about how important education is becoming nowadays, however, are these new facilities improving the way we learn? In fact, have the buildings in which we study the ability to make us more creative or more successful?

As a matter of fact the way spaces are arranged do matter in the way students interact with the professor, in the way they engage with each other and in conclusion in the way they learn. But how does architecture (the physical space) influence education? Whether the classroom has a circular or linear disposition may have the strongest impact, nevertheless other aspects are also very important. Things such as proximity between spaces matter too. Where are the library, the computer rooms or the cafeteria located? Or for example, do universities that have sports facilities contribute to the overall performance of students (body and mind)? Would you agree that green spaces, scenarios and cafeterias are necessary to provide relax, inspiration and interaction? Or do you think they are a waste of space and should be avoided? Does the total area per student matter? Does it depend on the major? There is a whole psychological approach about this type of building, quite interesting in fact.

I here propose 9 universities from different places around the globe to open the debate. What do you think about architecture in education? What should the building include/not include? Do you think the facility where you studied was important to your performance?


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Cooper Union by Morphosis

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Cooper Union by Morphosis Detail
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Cooper Union by Morphosis Stair 2

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Cooper Union by Morphosis Stair

1. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Location: New York (US)
Architect: Morphosis Architects
Year: 2009
Brief Description: Built as the new academic building for The Cooper Union. The central and most important part of the building is the stair. It works as a “plaza” where students gather. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Deichmann Center by Vert Architects
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Deichmann Center by Vert Architects Courtyard

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Deichmann Center by Vert Architects Plaza

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Deichmann Center by Vert Architects Interior

2.
Deichmann Center for Social Interaction (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Location: Beer-Sheva (Israel)
Architect: Vert Architects
Year: 2008
Brief Description: The square serves as an entrance gate to the western side of the campus, surrounded by existing buildings and the future Negev Gallery. The square offers an outdoor space for cultural and social activities for students and for the city population. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Ewha Womans University by Dominique Perrault Architecture Exterior
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Ewha Womans University by Dominique Perrault Architecture

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Ewha Womans University by Dominique Perrault Architecture Interior gym

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Ewha Womans University by Dominique Perrault Architecture Interior

3.
Ewha Womans University
Location: Seoul (Korea)
Architect: Dominique Perrault Architecture
Year: 2008
Brief Description:  This new campus brings together the university and the city. It “invites the public into the site carrying students and visitors”. Read more here.


RH2055-0111
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Adolfo Ibañez University by José Cruz Ovalle y Asociados Exterior

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Adolfo Ibañez University by José Cruz Ovalle y Asociados Exterior Skyline Chile

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4.
Adolfo Ibañez University
Location: Viña del Mar (Chile)
Architect: José Cruz Ovalle y Asociados
Year: 2011
Brief Description:  This new campus located on the hills of the city of Viña del Mar attempts to create a unique compound for university life, that allows for a certain relationship between study and contemplation. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Universita Luigi Bocconi Exterior
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Universita Luigi Bocconi

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Universita Luigi Bocconi Interior

5.
 Luigi Bocconi University
Location: Milan (Italy)
Architect: Grafton Architects
Year: 2008
Brief Description: The idea was to make two worlds, one hovering over the other, with the space of the city flowing between. The building feels like a city in miniature and was designed as a ‘place of exchange’. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Creative Center at Bangkok University by Supermachine Studio
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Creative Center at Bangkok University by Supermachine Studio Interior 2

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Creative Center at Bangkok University by Supermachine Studio Interior 3

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Creative Center at Bangkok University by Supermachine Studio Interior 4

6.
Creative Center at Bangkok University
Location: Bangkok (Thailand)
Architect: Supermachine Studio
Year: 2011?
Brief Description: The facility is meant to be very open, playful and expressive to encourage the students to communicate more thus come the creative environment. It challenges and questions the identities and activities of young people, as well as a new policy in Thai society. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Zollverein School of Management and Design by SANAA Exterior
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Zollverein School of Management and Design by SANAA

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Zollverein School of Management and Design by SANAA Interior 2

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Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - Zollverein School of Management and Design by SANAA Rooftop


7.
Zollverein School of Management and Design
Location: Essen (Germany)
Architect: SANAA
Year: 2006
Brief Description: Given traditional standards, the building volume might be perceived as too large for its program. Exceptional ceiling heights seem appropriate for the educational spaces. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - The Swinburne University of Technology by H2O Exterior
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - The Swinburne University of Technology by H2O Interior

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - The Swinburne University of Technology by H2O

8.
The Swinburne University of Technology
Location:Melbourne (Australia)
Architect: H2o architects
Year: 2011
Brief Description: SUT ATC is a cutting edge engineering focused facility for education and research, designed to be practical and flexible for future changes in education, while enriching and invigorating its occupants and the university. Read more here.


Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - MUSASHINO ART UNIVERSITY MUSEUM + LIBRARY by Sou Fujimoto
Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - MUSASHINO ART UNIVERSITY MUSEUM + LIBRARY by Sou Fujimoto Access

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - MUSASHINO ART UNIVERSITY MUSEUM + LIBRARY by Sou Fujimoto Interior 2

Virginia Duran Blog- Architecture and Education - MUSASHINO ART UNIVERSITY MUSEUM + LIBRARY by Sou Fujimoto Interior

9.
Musashino Art University Museum & Library
Location: Tokyo (Japan)
Architect: Sou Fujimoto
Year: 2010
Brief Description: It proposes a new relation between the user and the books, surrounded and sheltered by them. The library is made from bookshelves. Read more here.


 

18 thoughts on “How does architecture affect education?

  1. Virginia – Thank you for taking your time to make this post. However, before I answer your question I would like to hear your opinion. I believe that you studied in Madrid and Chicago. Can you compare the two experiences? Also on a smaller scale; how did you like learning in the Mies van der Rohe – Crown Hall building with it’s very linear yet open set up? Its openness, proximity to computer labs and model shop must have been a positive – right? What about the flip side of that argument. Since you had all of those amenities readily available did you really get a chance to interact with the rest of university community? Did you not feel confined to Crown Hall and missed the chance to be part of the larger group of students other than architecture students only? Let’s compare that to experience that you might have studying in a very different settings in Madrid (unless they were not :-]).

    – Konrad

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    • Hello Konrad,

      Thanks for stopping by and take the time to comment the post. The architecture facility of Madrid is a very traditional building from the 19th century with barely no individual spaces at all. This is very positive because every one at school tends to work in groups. On the other hand, at IIT there were so many places to work individually (Crown Hall, MTCC, Fan Lab, Library etc.) that it was easy to be productive and develop individual skills. So in that aspect both had a positive influence on me.

      Madrid’s Technical University Campus is so big in comparison to IIT that even the Computer Science building felt really close. I had a lot of interaction with people from other schools, also because I had a few courses at Civil and Architectural Engineering. But in Madrid there is no real cooperation from faculty to faculty and this is somehow due to these huge distances.
      I loved working at Crown Hall by the way but not so much when our classroom was on the basement hehehe.

      What do you think about IIT? Do you agree that spaces such as MTCC promote interaction? Do you think you developed more your individual or group skills? What could be improved?

      Virginia-

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      • Virgina – This is really an interesting perspective. I didn’t realize that IIT might be seen as a “small” school. I grew up attending small schools and IIT’s campus seems quite large to me. Our perception of what is “small” and what is a “large” campus to be dependent strongly on individual experiences from past schools attended. To me venturing outside of Crown Hall and into a Library or MTCC was quite an adventure. I liked having everything available to me in one building. However, this felt to me isolated. I understand that feeling is quite opposite to what you thought of Crown Hall. I always felt like Crown Hall was a good space to study Architecture. I liked being able to constantly interact with other architecture students. I liked bouncing my ideas off of them. It felt like a good place for conversation. It was quite different when you were in 4310 Building, where I felt like everyone was isolated. We had typical classroom set up and no one really liked to work there. It felt more like a library to me – quiet, isolated and distant. Besides the before mentioned lack of people to converse with I also missed the ability to see other people’s work. It was always a big part of what motivated me. So it’s not just the opportunity to pick people’s brains but also to be able to feed off their commitment. I am a little surprised – now that I think about it – how those two different spaces enabled me to work in much different manner.

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      • Reading this made me realize that is through comparison that we are able to evaluate buildings. I always thought Madrid was ok until I went to IIT, which I thought it was amazing. But to be honest it may have influenced that I love Chicago. Did you get that feeling too when you moved to the campus?

        I didn’t like 3410 either it really felt isolated to me. Although people put their work in the walls too, so we could be able to see each other’s progress. In that aspect, it matters how the professor uses the space too. My best studio, with Karla Sierralta, happened in 3410 so I am not very sure how to judge the building. Where did you feel you had your best studio? Where did you see the most creative version of you?

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  2. great post! i’m endlessly fascinated by the psychology of spaces and the impact buildings have on our day to day lives, and our learning too. herman hertzberger to my mind is one of the greats when it comes to human space and making space humane. some wonderful examples, here; i love the massive street that cuts through in example 3 (i love steps as places to inhabit and converse), and the bookshelf library in no. 9..

    my old faculty at the university of melbourne has just been the subject of an international competition (you may be interested in the link below); the external views look interesting, but i’m not crazy about what i can see of the inside… what a great opportunity to get it right – i hope they do!
    http://www.designboom.com/architecture/nadaaa-university-of-melbourne-faculty-of-architecture-building/
    jane

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    • Wow! Your university is going through a big change and for what I’ve seen it’s currently under construction already, isn’t it? It looks that there will be more open spaces, big stairs and a lot of light on its interior so I think in terms of psychology it would be better.

      Anyways, even if you plan how the users are going to interact in the building, there is no way to be certain they will do as you expected. So I think we’ll have to wait until is built to see if it improved😀

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  3. Funnily enough I had just been at this site https://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/page.aspx?pid=3713 before coming to your post. The post on the Gothic Revival style of Keble College relates well to this post http://www.historic.org.nz/theregister/registersearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=7301 which is the complex where I started my University degree. It was a wonderful place to be a student. I didn’t like it at all when we had to move out to the new campus; which I thought ugly, disconnected and without soul. So, yes, I do think the architecture of a university is important. You have chosen a great selection of university buildings.

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    • “The clock Tower block was New Zealand’s first permanent building designed specifically for university purposes.” I am really impressed by the campus. So much history and so much authority within the walls. I also believe in architecture that makes you feel small, that inspires respect or even fear and this looks a mixture of all. I guess it depends on the majors but for example I think is a mistake to build universities like #6 (although in this case, a creativity school, its design is well justified. But wouldn’t imagine Law school in here).

      Do you think moving to the new campus was what you didn’t like or you really thought the facility was very ugly? In what way were they different?

      Like

      • The new campus was very raw and had not yet been properly landscaped. The buildings were ‘brutalist’ and spread out over a large area. To get from class to class we were often walking on planks over muddy unlandscaped grounds with freezing winds whipping by. This was very different from the old, compact campus we were used to. I felt there was no cohesion to the campus, and that the buildings were impositions on the landscape and were about the buildings themselves and not about education or a philosophy of education. If you have time to read it, you may find this article interesting, http://www.sustain.canterbury.ac.nz/documents/uc_campus_landscape_history.pdf especially pages 7, 8 and 9. Interestingly, with so many of those big ‘brutalist’ and modern buildings damaged in the earthquakes, the University has to erect a temporary village of pre-fab lecture rooms in a compact area. Apparently teachers and students love this new area.

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  5. Oh it affected my studies greatly. I started the first quarter with an ‘A’ average . . . after discovering the Big Muddy Room (a gathering area), the Pinball area, the table tennis area, the tennis courts, the lake on campus, the bowling alley, marathon Spades and Hearts games, and chess, I basically stopped going to classes. By the end of the second year I crossed into a sub-C average, and was about to be expelled.

    Just before I was kicked out, an architecture of sorts did get me to buckle down and graduate, get a job at Cadillac motors, where I eventually quit GM to start my own business . . . I met my wife.

    Seriously, we had a nice new campus, but without anything to compare it to (not in pictures, but actually attending) I can’t say if it influenced my studies or not. The last two and a half years I carried 19-21 credit hours per semester in my engineering major and math minor . . . frankly, I did not have time to notice much of anything, let alone architecture.

    But them be some interesting buildings . . . pretty to look at, but I still don’t know how they would have helped or hindered my studies.

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    • I think the way those spaces were arranged did affect your university experience. For example, do you think the gathering areas were necessary? Do you think if they were placed far away from the classrooms that would have affected how many times you skipped/went to class?

      I’ve been in 3 different universities so far and don’t have a clear conclusion about how these spaces affected my productivity yet. On the one hand, at IIT the gathering area was so far away that all the architects stayed in the same building. So you could see some people sleeping over their models and then wake up and continue working. In Rome, we had a café just outisde the main door so everyone was there. No one actually worked at uni. I wonder if that was because of the culture or because of architecture. At Madrid all spaces lead to the library and study areas around, and everyone is there. I guess the way spaces are arranged here made me more productive.

      What do you think about that?

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      • My comment was directed more toward the exposure to things I discovered when I went to college, and those things (activities) were independent and far more important than the architecture.

        I read your accounts of the various places, and I could stretch my imagination to try and understand how it might affect others, but not stretch it so far as to apply it to my experience

        A lot of what you mention relates to social behavior for both academic and personal activities. Again, nothing that was ever pertinent to my situation (I prefer very small groups – 2-3 people).

        I think the way people are wired will direct them to “find” places they like, and especially places conducive to activities they are interested in. Further, I think the variability of individuals precludes consistently facilitating a massively communal activity such as studying for a degree.

        Then again, I don’t have any data on it; just my impression based on my own experience.

        Hmm . . . let me summarize . . . I think architecture may peripherally affect the comfort of some individuals, be transparent to others, and may negatively impact still others. To that end, I would be skeptical of claims relating to “facilitating” learning for a diverse group of people, except maybe in extreme cases (i.e. holding classes in what used to be a prison or a brothel might distract students).

        Again, I stress I don’t have data to back up what are essentially words mirroring how I would react. It could be, and is strongly voiced by many, that I am well outside the norm. Some even accuse me of striving to be so.

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