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The nexus between physical spaces and learning activities

HSG Learning Center

Open Grid and Open Mind: spatial metaphors and the nexus between physical spaces and learning activities

In the course of the development of the didactic principles and for communication with the architects of the HSG Learning Center, four spatial metaphors were elaborated: railway station concourse, cloister & atrium, atelier & workshop, and holodeck.

On the strength of their visual representation and their description, the spatial metaphors provide an introduction to the various utilisation zones in the HSG Learning Center.
The objective of the didactic principles was and still is to describe the various fundamental learning activities in the future HSG Learning Center in an accessible manner.
They thus indicate the scope of expectations with regard to what should be made possible in terms of specific teaching and learning activities in the HSG Learning Center in the future.
In the course of the development of the didactic principles and for communication with the architects of the HSG Learning Center, four spatial metaphors were elaborated: railway station concourse, cloister & atrium, atelier & workshop, and holodeck. On the strength of their visual representation and their description, the spatial metaphors provide an introduction to the various utilisation zones in the HSG Learning Center. The objective of the didactic principles was and still is to describe the various fundamental learning activities in the future HSG Learning Center in an accessible manner. They thus indicate the scope of expectations with regard to what should be made possible in terms of specific teaching and learning activities in the HSG Learning Center in the future. The following descriptions are based on the explanations provided by Tobias Jenert and the Learning Center 2017 working group.

 

Railway station concourse
The transitional space between the outside and the inside has several functions and can thus be compared with a railway station concourse. First of all, it is a zone for welcoming people, providing information and orientation. Where is what taking place? What options are there beyond what may be expected? How can I find my place? What inspires me? … However, railway station concourses also have the function of spontaneous encounters and brief exchanges before the “learning journey” continues. In a welcoming cafeteria area, the emphasis is on informal exchange and encounters, on contacts that may not have been precisely and specifically sought but were still found. Then again, railway station concourses have various “tracks”: one zone which is primarily intended for collaborative work, an area in which various “guests” find a platform, a space for short-term work, etc.

 

Cloister & atrium
In a monastic cloister, contemplation is combined with physical exercise. The cloister metaphor deliberately suspends the division between working and physical exercise zones in the HSG Learning Center. The connection between the various learning zones and between floors turns into animated and active learning zones. Thus corridors and stairs constitute rooms that can be used for spontaneous meetings and notes for working groups or also for a deliberate presentation format at the different levels of the staircase. The central atrium has been designed as a large, highly flexible “core” of the HSG Learning Center, which adapts to changing requirements during the academic year: during the semesters, it provides more space for group work or individualizable learning islands, whereas during examination revision time, more space is available for individual work, and in the evenings it can be arranged for symposia or major events.

 

Atelier & workshop
In the various ateliers and workshops of the HSG Learning Center, the focus is on product-oriented and creative learning. Competencies such as creativity, innovation and initiative are stimulated by specific action in a context which encourages creation. This means that it is not only “free spaces” for creative design that are developed in the various ateliers and workshops but that the availability of materials for prototype construction and design is also ensured. This means that everything is available and ready for use, for instance, for the entire process from initial collaborative sketches on paper to different variants of computer-aided development and concrete physical materials.

 

Holodeck
The HSG Learning Center’s holodeck is the metaphor for the use of a powerful digital infrastructure for the enrichment of teaching and learning processes. This digital technology is easily accessible and flexible, and above all, it does not dominate the room. Thanks to the use of sensors, algorithms and pattern recognition, and with the help of a learning room platform that will have to be specially developed for the HSG Learning Center, learning processes will be individually monitored, feedback processes will be triggered off, interactions will be recommended or measures will be implemented with the help of digital tools. Thus a chatbot, for example, will be able to conduct a tutorial for a collaborative group presentation on a video wall together with the team which will also involve external partners for the work. This means that in the holodeck, various mixtures of reality between physical and virtual reality will become an experienceable learning reality for users.

 

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