Thursday, September 26, 2013

University Satellite Campuses Like Co-Working Offices

While in Perth I dropped into to see Ben Killigrew at the UWA Pilbara Project, which is looking at setting up an office in north Western Australia, with research and teaching facilities. The project office is next door to Spacecube Co-working space, and I suggested UWA look at the design of such shared offices, as well as university learning commons for their Pilbara facility.

Universities face a difficult choice when setting up satellite campuses. Buildings are expensive fixed assets and require staff to run them. The staff and students, research and teaching needs will change over time. Very small facilities, typically one building in a country town, have their own challenges in terms of keeping them staffed and used.

It happens I visited UWA Albany Campus in south Western Australia some years ago, when a consultant for government. This was in a restored historic building, with a good layout of small tutorial rooms and offices.

The University of Canberra Inspire Centre is a good example of a new purpose built stand alone facility worth a look. It has the white-board paint, hard-wearing floors, folding furniture on wheels.

For the redesign of the ANU CIST Building I proposed removing walls to create one large multi-purpose spaces, retain some glass walled tutorial rooms and have a cyber-cafe/reception area, as is now usual for learning commons.

Another option is to incorporate the university facility in a larger community complex. Gungahlin College and Library in North Canberra provides an excellent example of a combined facility. The one building has a TAFE, school and community library. The TAFE and library have their own areas of the building which can be closed off when required, but can share facilities.

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