Saturday, November 26, 2016

Canberra Renewables is the University of the Future

This week I attended the opening of the Less Than Two  Degrees Renewables Innovation Hub in Canberra. This is a new office building professionally fitted out, specifically as an innovation hub. This contrasts with the typical innovation center in a converted warehouse, such as  Fishburners in Sydney. As well as being an excellent design for an innovation center, Renewables Canberra provides a template for the university of the future.

Half the ground floor of Renewables Canberra is open space for events. This area has no permanent furniture: it just is just a large room. The other half of the building has offices and meeting rooms around the periphery, each with a frosted glass inner wall. The interior has rows of desks on wheels, with clip on power boards, connected to cables from the ceiling. There are rows of lockers forming room dividers. There are two kitchens, with some bench seating.

The space allows for individuals or small groups to start at the open plan desks (keeping their belongings in the lockers) and then graduate to an offices, or suite of offices.

The desks are on wheels and and be pushed aside for events, or to make a classroom. I suggest this will be the design of the university campus of the future. The space can be rearranged as required, for individual, small group work or large classes.

One addition I would make to the design is cafe booths on wheels. With this two rows of bench seats (each on wheels) is arranged facing a table between (also on wheels, but remember to lock all the wheels for a semi-permanent arrangement). These units provide high density, semi-private meeting spaces for groups of six, with the fabric of the high backs on the bench seats absorbing sound.

Another addition would be USB power sockets. USB sockets are much smaller and less intrusive than mains sockets.

The Australian National University is having a Union Court Revitalisation Project Update, 7December 2016, 1 pm. This would be a good place to incorporate multi-use spaces similar to Renewables Canberra.

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