JKU Learning Centre. Learning worlds vs. working worlds.
Magazine Contact #31
From the working world to the learning world.
On a surface area of 1,700 square metres, the four quadratically arranged wings, which are supported on 15 pillars and project over 20 metres above the library building, offer around 300 students space for connecting, learning and experimenting. When entering the space, the clear atmosphere immediately becomes apparent that is created by the open visual axes with a through view to the outside. The uncladded ceiling and the glazed outer walls open the space and call on one to gaze into the distance. After the initial impression of a labyrinth of padded furniture and tables, the sophisticated zoning concept can quickly be recognised and one becomes familiar with various areas.
“We are convinced that the way one learns is heavily influenced by the environment – and therefore by the spaces,” says Mag. Alexander Freischlager, Head of Operation Management at JKU. “The interior architecture creates the necessary atmosphere. An important success factor is the facilities. These must be highly flexible, allow different learning situations that can change several times daily and appeal to all learning types.” To this end, five different zones were created that are found several times in the Learning Centre. “Working worlds are increasingly being seen as learning worlds,” says Magdalena Baum, Head of Interior Design at Wiesner-Hager. “This makes it all the more important for educational institutions to convert their learning worlds into working worlds.” In line with the motto “We learn for life, not for school”, particular importance was placed at the new JKU Learning Centre on opportunities for spontaneous exchange of information and the individual needs of project groups.
Eco-system for the development of the learning culture.
Five different functional areas were developed for the learning centre concept: informal meeting in the entrance area (Connect), working in groups (Share), tutoring (Distribute), the personal place for learning (Collect) and the learning lab (Create). All five areas are to appeal to different learning types and, above all, allow collaboration in various group sizes in different settings, supported by digital media. To encourage informal exchange (Connect) and incidental meetings, comfortable seats were provided in the entrance area of the Learning Centre. Additionally, in the south-west corner of the building, various beanbags and stools can be grouped by the students as needed and desired. The space with its view onto the treetops of the JKU uni park is particularly suitable. To facilitate group work (Share) and nevertheless to ensure a pleasantly quiet atmosphere, element padded furniture and marelli stripes sofas were installed. Thanks to the electrification of the individual elements, projects can be worked on well and gladly over several hours, without the students having to change places during this time. The sitting furniture is arranged in such a way that students can immerse themselves in discussions and interdisciplinary team work without feeling observed or disturbed in the process.
To allow highly concentrated working in a personal place of learning (Collect), tables, chairs and freestanding padded furniture were set up in several clearly defined zones. Despite the open learning environment, the quadratic form of the architecture allows withdrawal opportunities with acoustic screening. A special feature is the standing tables with bar stools, which even allow working, discussing and learning while standing.
In contrast to these personal places of learning are the two spatially divided learning labs (Create). They can be adapted in an absolutely flexible manner to the needs of the students. The quadratic tables and the mobile glass tables are equipped with rollers and can thus easily be positioned where the creative work is currently taking place. In the process, the Lintex glass tables act not just as a spatial division, but also support the visualised presentation of projects and learning content. Here, too, elevated tables with bar stools are used to separate the zones spatially and to encourage brief meeting situations while standing.
With this open learning centre concept, Johannes Kepler University Linz clearly positions itself as a role model for learning and working worlds in the 21st century and has achieved its objective as an eco-system for the development of learning culture.
It will now be exciting in the autumn when the Learning Centre – in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic – is finally made accessible to the students. Only the students will breathe life into the Learning Centre and will reinterpret it completely for themselves.
Planning & interior design: RIEPL RIEPL ARCHITEKTEN ZT GMBH
Learning Centre concept: Wiesner-Hager Möbel GmbH
Statics & construction: Bollinger + Grohmann
Furniture: Wiesner-Hager Möbel GmbH, Mandl & Bauer GmbH, AREA, Böhm Möbel