A typical college or university campus is built to last for about a century. Programs and curricula can change in that time. Is it possible to accommodate these changes without making dramatic physical changes to the campus itself? Yes! The creative use of flexible furniture can be an economical way of manipulating a physical space.
If your programs or curriculum are changing and you have a need for a space you didn’t have before, you can often adapt your use of furniture in classrooms, corridors, and common spaces to fill your additional needs.
Your Furniture Options
There’s a wide range of options available to you when looking at new furniture for your campus spaces. Here is some of what is available to help you meet changes in the program or curriculum:
As the name implies, these adjustable-height tables allow for sitting in one period and standing in the next. These can allow classrooms to be configurable for different subjects or teaching methods.
Flip-top tables nest in small areas and are easily stored because they’re usually on casters. They’re great for large spaces that need to change immediately from large group instruction to open space.
Dividers offer the most flexibility when creating “zones.” This is ideal for rooms that need to support large group instruction as well as small group and individual instruction. Space dividers let you quickly and easily create zones for these different instruction styles.
This is an admittedly broad category that includes individual chairs, sofas, and more. It even includes chairs with tablet arms that can support certain types of individual study and other types of modern learning.
A variety of options work together to create flexibility. Booths offer quiet spaces to study, and counter-height tables and chairs provide space for collaborative learning. Many institutions want flexibility in their workspaces, particularly in the cafeteria, and creative use of furniture can achieve this.
Repurposing Higher Education Spaces
The idea of using furniture to accommodate changing needs is all about repurposing what you already have. What does the process of repurposing education space look like?
1. Less Rigidity
For spaces that need to serve multiple purposes but aren’t equipped to, moveable furniture can be a straightforward solution. Choose tables and chairs that can be reconfigured with video monitors and whiteboards on each wall. This will allow groups of students to collaborate, research, and ultimately present to the whole class. These furniture additions allow learning spaces to effortlessly serve new purposes, while still leaving the option for quick rearranged back into a traditional setup should the need arise.
2. Staff Education
Furniture can also be used to efficiently transform your traditional learning environments into centers for more modern methods of education such as active learning. From a furniture perspective, many active learning classrooms will feature fixed tables for small groups with room for about nine students each. These tables can prove to be some of the most important pieces in the room, as they don’t imply any sort of learning hierarchy, thus promoting collaboration between students by putting everyone on an equal footing.
3. Power and Technology
When repurposing existing learning spaces, the hardest thing to pay attention to is the use of power and technology. The existing architecture must be manipulated, adding power where it didn’t exist before.
Once that’s accomplished, with the evolving world of technology and the more prevalent inclusion of “bring your own device,” furniture can help you rapidly support more modern curriculums and approaches to Higher Education.
Are you interested in learning more about CMBA Architects and how we can help you repurpose your Higher Education space? Click here to learn more!