Creating a sense of curiosity with open or visible spaces
The transformation and demise of the classroom, libraries without books, lectures without halls, and the necessity of collaborative team-based learning, culture, and connectivity have generated a paradigm shift in academic design. And this didn't just happen because we have endured a global pandemic or technological advancements in the last few years. These changes started well before but were accelerated out of necessity. Combined with increased attention to the causes of climate disruption and you have the perfect recipe of influences for change.
Decreased enrollment in academic institutions in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic and related financial insecurity has generated questions and uncertainty for many colleges and universities worldwide. However, there is no replacement for in-person learning and experiences that can only happen on campus. Creating a sense of curiosity with open or visible spaces, promoting team-based learning, creating a sense of uniqueness, community, culture, and belonging, creating spaces that are multifunctional, flexible, or hybrid, and reinventing spaces with classic but now outdated definitions have become imperative for the modern campus' and spurred immediate funding for transformation.
As we think about the approaches that can be taken to improve schools, increase enrollment and promote resiliency, design professionals must think holistically, from outside in. Great outdoor spaces have always been part of the good campus design providing an opportunity for connectedness, culture, learning, and interaction. As part of the design resources for academic projects, advancements in hardscape technologies provide unique finishes and capabilities to achieve the design vision. Distinct paving materials and retaining walls help to transform and elevate existing, underutilized outdoor spaces and rooftops into beautiful and functional, synergistic outdoor rooms.
Walkability and Wayfinding
Walking is the fundamental method of travel for students to navigate their campus. Unmaintained walkways, building entrances, and plazas can present a challenge to site users and damage the brand image of a school for current and prospective students. Updating and improving walkability can be done easily with concrete unit pavers. They offer the durability and flexibility required for enhancing or adding new walkways for people navigating campus on foot or bike, while capable of vehicular traffic for integrated emergency vehicle routes.