Learning Spaces in Drysdale Building – Seminar Rooms

The ‘Marmite’ chair, love it or hate it, the ‘Node’ tablet chair from Steelcase is very useful in small seminar rooms where the option is fewer tables and chairs, or the versatility of these seats that can easily be moved. It is possible that the room has been left in this arrangement after cleaning, but it is not welcoming for the next class!


This is an example of what many universities create by adopting the term ‘flexible’  a word which I would argue is misleading and problematic.

The F-word is my term for ‘flexible’, the main issue is the tables which can be moved as they are on castors but each table has a castor which is locked and would need to be freed in order fo the tables to be moved. This photograph is a good example of what in-coming classes would be faced with, as the previous class have left the furniture like this. Most classes are timetabled for less than an hour, so the academic would have little time to rearrange the furniture to suit.  See the Learning Spaces Toolkit pages 13 & 80, UCISA/SCHOMS/AUDE, 2015.

Another issue is that the room looks messy and cluttered, not particularly conducive nor engaging for learners. The tables are very small [60 cm square] for adults, they are square so not conducive to collaboration as each right-angle is a sharp corner. Far better to design learning spaces with versatility of use, rather than attempting to cater for numerous activities and not succeeding in any.  By adopting the ‘portfolio’ approach; it is better to create a range of learning spaces that cater for different purposes in terms of cohort, activity and layout. This will arguably improve efficiency, such as utilisation as well as educational effectiveness, thus meeting Estates requirements as well as pedagogic imperatives.