UK designer Thomas Heatherwick has lived up to the aspirations of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore by designing a Learning Hub that encourages collaboration and fosters sociability and a sense of togetherness. The Learning Hub is a part of a £360 million scheme undertaken by Nanyang, and is the first redevelopment of its campus in twenty years.
With the notion that corridors create social separation and isolation, The Hub brings together 55 tutorial rooms in a structure without any conventional corridors. Similarly, the building does not have a traditional main entrance; students can enter from any side of the building into a large central space which links all the separate towers together. Each tower is made up of a stack of classrooms which build up gradually, with gardens on selected floors.
The idea of The Hub was to break down the traditional square forward-facing classrooms with a clear front and hierarchy, and move to a corner-less space, where teachers and students mix on a more equal basis. In this model, students work together around shared tables, with teacher as facilitator and partner in the voyage of learning, rather than ‘master’ executing the traditional top-down model of pedagogy. Instead of corridors, each level features open galleries where students can circulate and meet. The students can meet their fellow entrepreneurs, scientists or colleagues in this space that encourages free interaction among all. Each of the tutorial rooms faces the large shared central space, allowing students to continually feel connected to all the other activities going on in the building.
Other than being a congenial space for all, the Learning Hub also ensures plenty of natural light and green spaces. It was also recently awarded the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award for sustainability by the Singaporean government. The award is a bench-marking scheme which incorporates internationally recognized best practices in environmental design and performance.
Images courtesy of Heatherwick Studio