Thursday, February 11, 2010

Demolish Lecture Theatres to make Room for Students

3D rendering of a modular apartment at Laurus Wing, Ursula Hall, ANU by Quicksmart HomesIt is time for Australian universities to demolish their obsolete lecture theaters to make room for modern teaching and student accommodation. In 2006 I suggested we celebrate Canberra's centenary by investigating the construction of low cost, high quality, environmentally efficient modular housing. The ACT Government did not take up this idea, but the Australian National University built a student block from shipping containers, modeled on the Keetwonen project in Amsterdam (as highlighted in my proposal). Other Australian universities are following this lead, but are still short of student accommodation. What campuses do have are old large obsolete lecture theaters, which I suggest be demolished to make room for modern education and accommodation facilities.

Old large lecture theaters are no use for modern educational techniques. These spaces are now mostly empty, as few students attend traditional lectures. New, smaller, computer equipped teaching spaces are needed. There is no efficient way to convert the old lecture theatre buildings to the new use. These buildings should be demolished and replaced with new ones. As well as new smaller teaching spaces, this space can be used for more student accommodation. The distinction between accommodation and teaching building can also be lessened, with more teaching done close to the accommodation (Oxbridge style).

New building can be designed to be easily re-purposed for teaching, administration, commercial space and accommodation. These buildings can be built using environmentally efficient modular techniques and rapidly constructed.

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