Arguably, the origin of the contemporary higher education institution is Plato’s Academy. In its initial stages, the school did not have any particular desire to teach. Instead Plato and his contemporaries posed problems to be studied and solved by each other. It was not an established ‘school’ as we recognise educational institutions to be today. There were no clear distinctions between teachers and students, and neither was there any formal curriculum. It instead offered an open forum for learning, utilising a fluid combination of teaching, individual study, discussion and debate.
This collaborative and supportive environment has transformed over many years, manifesting itself into many different models, including the British Collegiate model which emphasises the comprehensive development of students intellect and character. This has been achieved through the use of the common space, allowing all members of the university to participate in the formation of strong communities in which to share ideas in an informal environment.
This project seeks to establish a unique approach to the design of academic workspaces. A comparative approach is often adopted at present, derived and adapted from the commercial workplace. Academic and commercial environments are significantly distinct from each other, as are the higher education and school environments.
An adaptation of an existing framework is insufficient in responding to the complex needs and desires of academia. A unique framework, constructed from the outset to specifically address Academic workspaces, will be more effective in introducing transformative spaces to higher education institutions.
“Knowledge is the unique claim of higher education. It is at the core of every public and private good that we create.”
Simon Marginson, Professor of Higher Education, University of Melbourne