[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Laura Sherliker, The Fairhursts Design Group
The landscape of space, how it is used and how it is valued is undergoing a radical transformation as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic – workplaces are shrinking, they are providing a wider variety of work settings in more hi-tech environments and time within them has become more appreciated than ever.
Learning environments are following suit as well, and we are seeing a requirement for spaces that facilitate new teaching techniques, support the changing demographic of the learning population and encourage collaboration, especially between education and industry.
At The Fairhursts Design Group (FDG) we seek to create inspirational working and learning environments that are efficient and effective, but the key is to design them around patterns of human interaction rather than specific needs of departments, disciplines or technologies. Traditional categories of space are becoming less meaningful as spaces become less specialised and more technologically driven, boundaries have blurred, which is providing an opportunity to re-imagine what learning environments should look like.
In recent years we have seen a shift towards learning-centred communities where collaboration between education and industry prepares students for the world of work, and where industry benefits from fresh ideas and fresh perspectives. Finding solutions to complex social, environmental and economic challenges – for example, in life sciences, robotics, engineering, manufacturing and automotive – have increasingly required collaboration between universities and industry because few organisations have the internal capacity to deliver results in isolation, but it also ensures that graduates are in demand and are equipped with the skills to succeed in today’s workforce.
We have seen the successes that this approach can achieve in our project with the University of Liverpool and its Materials Innovation Factory (MIF). Designed by FDG and opened in 2017, the scheme created a unique research hub for materials chemistry, high-throughput materials and formulation research for use by the University and its industrial collaborators. Flexible laboratories, office spaces and a large collaboration zone complete the ‘research hotel’ arrangement at MIF and provide a variety of open-access facilities for industrial and academic partners.
“MIF is a world-class research institute that further develops our relationships with industry and was designed specifically to our requirements with collaboration baked into the building, which supports a community of like-minded researchers. It reflects our ambition to provide inspirational spaces for our research teams to discover and innovate.”
Dr Simon Longden, Managing Director of the MIF
When developing projects like this, partnerships with commercial organisations have become an institution-transforming catalyst in education and the city region, so it is imperative that we continue to push boundaries, develop new space models that foster collaboration and continue to transform our learning environments for the benefit of our future students, the universities and their industry associates.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]