So things are really starting to happen on our planned move. We were recommended to meet with colleagues in the library who have been dealing with architects and designers to create our new Learning Commons and some of the Site Libraries.
We picked up some good tips!
The planning process
- Understand how all parts of the building impact on your space and services, if there are other service desks or display areas you need to know how these will all work together.
- Ensure operational staff who will use the space are involved directly with architects and with the process.
- All operational staff that will be in the space should communicate with one another and agree the way they will work together well ahead of moving in – before planning the space.
- Show architects pictures to give them ideas of what you want.
- Point out concerns with plans at the earliest stage so that ideas don’t become set in stone, sometimes a suggestion on a preliminary plan can become fixed if no-one mentions it is a problem and it is harder to change things later in the process.
- Accept that you will lose some battles, so choose them wisely. But be firm about things that are important to you or you will regret it later.
- Involve IT services from an early stage.
Furniture and IT
- Get furniture from suppliers on trial to pilot it. We hadn’t thought of this and really hope we can get some in and see how it looks and feels.
- Don’t be forced into using university approved suppliers if there are better alternatives out there – shop around for the best solution available.
- Go for good quality – it wears better.
- Quality is expensive, it may be expensive to buy more later so try to plan what you need from the start.
- Consider flexible use furniture, e.g. special tables that can be dragged to chairs to allow students to use laptops
- Students dislike low-level tables, they prefer desk height when using laptops, we certainly observed this on our tours of campus.
- Student opinions of IT provision varies, a proportion want fixed IT, but only a small amount is needed.
- Put plugs at every table for laptop use.
AV display screens
- Don’t have them for the sake of it – they need to have a function.
- Someone needs to design content and manage scheduling for them – this may be a fulltime job.
We were recommended to see the architects work at other places on campus to get a feel for their design and use of space. This was useful to see what materials they were using and to see if the function of the space seemed to meet the needs of the users. We can then point out things we like and dislike when we go into meetings.