The modern classroom
Reinventing the traditional system of educational spaces
The idea of an open classroom has been approached
originally in British public elementary schools after World War 2. This is
known as an ‘informal education’ and categorised as another form of teaching.
Following that, this essay will discuss the various
functions of open spaces in education and their inconvenient qualities. One
critical aspect of this document will include the interior architecture of the
Ravensbourne college and its aim to push the boundaries between different
disciplines by putting the departments altogether in the three levelled wide
and open space.
The Ravensbourne College is a place that introduces
new ideas and things since the seventies from its originally situated garden
campus in Chislehurst, Kent and has found a new home. It has been placed in
Greenwich Peninsula on the Thames riverside and opened its gates in September
2011. This is another addition to the Greenwich Peninsula plan of building a
new community. Higher education has been included to London’s biggest digital
This University is indeed a world leading centre for
design and digital media education. Foreign Office Architects (Farshid
Moussavi) designed this building to motivate the environment of aspiring
occupants, providing different learning skills. Over 2400 students and staff
are accommodated in the place. The design of the interior architecture produces
an arrangement that encourages a partnership between the various disciplines
The Ravensbourne College is also being situated next to
the world’s most popular music venue, the O2.
The Universities ambition is to bring design and industry together, students
closer to their potential employers and the media events of London. Emphasising
this aspect, it is concluding a success because of the surroundings. Also, the
location of the University automatically results to stronger links with the
capitals digital media, broadcasts and design companies.
In this part of the essay, it is important to include all
facts about the architecture of Ravensbourne to be able to communicate them
with the argument later on. The structure itself is composed by three levels
and two interdependent atria. The external façade is being systematically
connected to the atria to visually show the origin of the public spaces inside
However, different shaped and coloured aluminium tiles
cover the façade of the building. The existence of the façade is excused by it
being an abstract construction for inspiration. Furthermore, it is expressing
the culture of contemporary productions being taught in the University.
“The façade of the college building
creates an abstract pattern from floral shapes that introduces a geometrical
order based on a tile unit. This affects not just the façade, but also
determines the internal organization, such as floor-to-ceiling heights and
structural grids”. (FOA,
2010) The pattern of the tiles is settled upon the sizes and positions of the
window openings. More importantly, the positions of the windows are entirely
coordinated by interior functions. In addition, the reason of the façade and
two atria being connected is to provide natural cooling. Located on the right
of the north south axis, windows on the north side are larger and more frequent
than the ones on the south. Therefore, reasoning of this grouping are that it
regulates the light levels and it stimulates professional media environments.
“The Open-Space Plan in Education reflects
an attitude rather than a mere physical arrangement “(Staples,1971) In this example, it is another
method of teaching, which shows some sort of misunderstanding. Again, the idea
is not creating another facility but creating motivational and inspirational
space. With this idea, new generation of schools and universities are being
done in order to shape a different culture of communicating information.
However, is this very effective in the educational aspect?
The Ravensbourne College is showing two sides
of that plan. One side is showing the interaction between aspiring occupants
another aspect is the mixture of too many professions. The Idealization of
“informal education” does not only link with refusing you to behave
traditionally but also being the reason of distraction.
In some context, it could lean towards students feeling
free and careless as the environment is projecting it to them. A space being
open in a sense, is supposed to be the line between a place being welcome and a
place people would rather avoid. Ravensbourne is indeed the right example of a
new form of workshop practice and collaborative studying in flexible spaces. But
does it result into quality work?
Also, is it healthy to have many various opinions of
knowledge in one space?
On the other hand, the potential of gaining as much know
how as possible is proven. As all students interact with each other, they do
communicate information and skills. Which seems to be a helpful approach in a
Then again, an appropriate study space is made of simple
criteria such as an ambient with a balanced noise level. And yet, it seems to
be pleasant having all students in a large “study space”. The issue which must
be focused on is that these open spaces in education could easily transform
into social spaces, which would have the opposite effect of what the initial concept
idea was aiming for. Summarised, the “Lack of private space in office interiors
is constraining the creativity and productivity of workers to date from two new
UK workplace surveys”. (Aouf, 2016)
Workers and students all tend to have different working
behaviour. As mentioned earlier the idea of the open space in the Ravensbourne college
was refusing you to behave traditionally. Nevertheless, it’s proven that
students and workers are “More likely to
be innovative if they had access to a range of spaces supporting different
working styles, including private, semi-private and open-plan environments.” (Aouf,2016)
these various working conditions could display an efficient productiveness. In
fact, these aren’t available. Therefore, it is fair to criticize the
inconvenient aspect of an open space applied to a study environment without
including any other options. Despite the truth, that everyone has different
Designing the volume of a classroom is considering all
aspects such as subject matter and students. Representing “The need to re-examine the nature of the school… the goals and aims of
teaching and the design of instruction” (Lehrer, Chazan, 2012) is a trigger
to reinvent every day utilized facilities in different ways weather it is
successful or another cause for disadvantageous study spaces.
On the other hand, the Ravensbourne college website
promises a variety of spaces including social and quit. When analysing the inside
of the building, it can be concluded that socializing took over the quit areas.
The inside of the building is wide and open without any boundaries which means
as mentioned earlier students feel free and careless. No consideration or
realization of their environment could lead to distraction for others.
The interior design is justified by “Providing flexible studio spaces that can easily be subdivided to
enable a variety of learning styles needed by the different courses” (Moussavi
At this point of the essay, it is advantageous to talk
more in depth about the interior design of the Ravensbourne College. The deep and open building has an atrium at
the entrance which is rising until the 3rd floor. Furthermore, it is
accessible for hosting events, as it is a public space.
The study spaces are arranged on different
floors and connected to a large atrium. It is an open space to “allow a visual and physical communication
between the colleges departments”. (Moussavi) The atrium inside the college
is used for socialising, department events and “informal learning”. It is
important to stress the fact that the centre of the building is reflecting an
informal atmosphere which could lead to unproductive behaviour around the
building. In addition, it is being described as a 21st century
learning environment which is illuminating the traditional teacher focus but introducing
the idea of learner focus. Basically, this change promises an independent
learning style which allows each student to be more critical and inquisitive.
Not only is the University focusing on visual aspects of communication
but it is also emphasising the tool of the internet to access the world.
Going back to the initial concept idea of the new place
for the University being a reinvention of a traditional form named study space.
“it will completely revolutionise the way
we work” (Baker, 2004). Thus, the building is a place where the traditional
teaching method is nowhere to be found. The interior architecture is indeed changing
the students’ behaviour. Likewise, it is as concluded earlier, a productive way
to professionalise in one discipline including the gained knowledge of others.
In the same way, teachers are being affected by this
method. The traditional constellation is students being centred by the teacher.
This is a significant point of the reinvention of educational space and the traditional
system. Hence, this new method creates a more supportive system towards the
students as the environment is passing that sense on to them.
To review, focusing on the various functions of open
study spaces and their inconvenient qualities in the Ravensbourne University showed
that this method isn’t suitable for this occasion. Because the idea of education being displaced
in an open space isn’t creating a facility in its shape and form but creating
motivational and inspirational space.
“informal education” could also lead to distraction in this case because the
centre of the building is producing this informal and social place which is
causing an unproductive atmosphere. Ravensbourne is in point of fact an example
of a new form of practice and collaborative studying flexible space. The inside
of the University is deep and open without any boundaries. Therefore, it could
result students to be careless of their environment. In some way, this change
promises an independent learning and study environment.
To sum up, optioning a broad range of working conditions
would benefit the unconcerned open study space. By various working conditions,
it is suggested to introduce social, private and semi-private study spaces into
the University. The idea is not carried out properly as the aim is to animate
students to be more critical and inquisitive. The interior architecture of the
University is indeed changing the behaviour of the students but not just in a
good manner. Therefore, a productive way to professionalize this concept is to
allow more options. Another essential point, being able to learn from other
disciplines and students is a great addition for higher education studies. The
atrium of the Ravensbourne College would be more functional if the study and
social spaces would be separated. The only point, which is making the open
study space unsuccessful, is the fact that there aren’t any other options than
being surrounded with different type of students.
To conclude, not every student is able to work in environments,
that are new to the education system. The interior architecture is capable of
the strategical form of that method. In fact, if the concept idea of the new
teaching and learning method is being developed in that way then the approach
would be successful.