A lesson to learn for the industry as new report predicts the campus of the future

A fresh approach to how the industry designs and constructs higher education facilities is needed with fewer lecture halls and more AI-informed buildings required, according to the latest paper by Arup.

The report entitled Campus of the Future, finds that requirements for campus buildings are ever-changing meaning traditional lecture halls are becoming outdated and calls are growing for flexible cross-disciplinary workplaces, quiet spaces, labs and innovation hubs.

Changes are said to be needed as the student body becomes more diverse and has greater expectations. The report states how education facilities are shifting away from solely focusing on the young before they begin their careers to supporting older workers updating their skills.

Arup claim that those running, designing and developing colleges and universities must maximise opportunities to become more adaptable and resilient in the face of changes.

Dr Chris Luebkeman, global foresight, research and innovation leader at Arup said: “The higher education sector is undergoing significant change, as social, technological and economic trends reshape how, what and where university students learn. There is a new relevance to the campus, in which the needs of both short-term and life-long learners must be at the core of design practices and operational policies. Brave, new approaches to resource management, sustained by automation and innovative technology, will be key to future proofing these facilities now and in the future.”

Report’s recommendations for enabling a new era of learning:

  • Blurring the ‘learn-life’ boundaries: Increased autonomy of students to choose where and how they want to research or study, is leading to a need to offer a holistic work-life experience on campus.  
  • Buildings that are flexible by design: The report identifies advanced techniques, such as digital fabrication and 3D printing to enable making it easier to design structures that can be constructed, deconstructed and then reconstructed.
  • Making waste work: The report highlights universities as ideal environments to turn more waste into a resource. As decreasing public expenditure impacts many facilities, these design strategies will be essential to future proofing the financial performance of a campus.
  • Using data to maximise facilities: One major issue for universities is the low use-rate of spaces and facilities. A campus-wide Internet of Things network, supported by AI and machine learning algorithms, can help address this – allowing a diverse range of real-time data to be gathered and assimilated.
  • Being a catalyst for innovation: Academic institutions have a key role to play in facilitating the creation and diffusion of knowledge. Proximity to the local business community can help foster regional innovation and provide employment and learning opportunities for students. 

Paul Webber, UKIMEA education leader at Arup said: “Universities are the backbone of innovation for regional economies. Understanding how technological advances and social trends are shaping future higher education campuses is key to supporting our clients realise their estates potential. The implications for design, management and governance highlighted in the report can be used to shape discussions with clients and partners.”

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