Vibrant campus aiding ongoing community regeneration
In late 2015, Keppie were approached by the University of the West of Scotland to undertake a feasibility study into the planned relocation of their Hamilton Campus. There were essentially three options being considered, one of which was to develop the University’s profile by moving to the existing Maxim Business Park in North Lanarkshire.
Our commission included assessing the developing identity and profile of the University and analysing how the existing blocks could accommodate the various faculties. In addition, we were challenged to envisage a completely new learning environment which was much more interactive and socially collaborative than the University had previously been accustomed to.
In acknowledging the growing trend for business and education to develop cheek-by-jowl, the proposal imagines a highly inter-connected and stimulating environment for these functions where a proactive partnership between the two is the basic justification for a more entrepreneurial and enterprising educational context.
Ours was a vision of a very vibrant campus indeed, with its own “street life” and an all embracing view of learning that reaches out directly to continually engage and help the ongoing regeneration of the local community context – in this case, an established Environmental Research one – by being the central heart of that community.
An Educational Village concept offers community facilities with a consequent dramatic investment in the shared library, sports and technology facilities. With students learning about citizenship and the citizens rediscovering learning in its widest sense, an Educational Village concept such as this one comes to define and redefine the community it serves.
If a learning establishment is truly community orientated, it would open at 7am and stay open until around 10pm. This remains one of the ongoing issues for Further and Higher Education; the user profile of the buildings are often low. But the real learning demographic of the Educational Village is 0-25 years; and beyond as a stimulus for Life-Long Learning. All parts of the campus should promote multi-modal pedagogy – one that blends several teaching methods and integrates technology – as the most effective teaching/learning method.
Non-traditional pedagogy such as that promoted by UWS@Maxim requires non-traditional Learning spaces, so all spaces should foster meaningful engagement. If students come to ‘class’ in the Educational Village to work collaboratively, they develop and learn by contact and experience. A lecturer becomes more of a facilitator.
In the Educational Village, students learn in a complex and non-linear way, partly because the community of learners and experts cannot fit well into the rigidity of the traditional educational timetable. Their community life is also lived very largely on campus, with many adults and other business mentors or industry leaders from within the community. There is a constant flow of expertise into the campus and because this does not easily follow a conventional timetable, nor does the school.
The Educational Village represented by UWS@Maxim is the Learning Environment of the Future. It doesn’t deliver education in a theoretical bubble. It fosters collaborative, interactive and completely learner-focused development. It values creativity, innovation and leadership. It supports different ways of thinking and it reinforces this by the flexibility and adaptability of large-scale open spaces with multiple uses.