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Global foresight manager

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Campus of the Future

Campus of the future

Marcus Morrell
UKIMEA Foresight Lead

Major forces are reshaping how, what and where we learn

Digital learning, automation and the expectations of an increasingly diverse student body are affecting how, what and where we learn. At the same time, the growing demand for life-long learning and a renewed interest in face-to-face experiences are giving higher education environments a new relevance.

In the face of shifting financial resources, the campus of the future will need to navigate constantly changing international and local contexts, whilst reducing environmental impact and fulfilling commercial responsibilities.

The Campus of the Future report examines the key trends affecting the design, operation and experience of higher education campuses, highlighting global best practices from the education sector.

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.

Paul Webber
Education Lead UKIMEA, Arup

The report highlights a number of approaches they should consider including:

  • Blurring the ‘learn-life’ boundaries – the boundaries between life and learning are continuously blurring. This, together with 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. Integrating lockers for online shopping, grocery deliveries, childcare or laundry services can help facilitate the more mundane aspects of student life, increasing the time they spend on meaningful activities on campus.

  • Buildings that are flexible by design – there is the need to design spaces that can be transformed on a regular basis, in line with ever-changing curricula and the requirements of students, departments and industry partners. The report identifies advanced techniques such as digital fabrication and 3D printing as enabling this, making it easier to design structures that can be constructed, deconstructed and then reconstructed. Design strategies should consider the entire life cycle of buildings and look to create adaptable layers that can be easily separated, moved and modified.

  • Making waste work – the report highlights universities as ideal environments for turning more waste into a resource. For example, by-products such as heat can be used by other facilities while solutions such as blue roofs can help harvest rainwater. As decreasing public expenditure impacts many facilities, these design strategies will be essential for 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. From real-time building usage data, to environmental data such as air quality and footfall, Higher Education providers will know in advance which facilities are used across daily, weekly or monthly cycles. This will allow them to maximise resource consumption and make their facilities available to private or public organisations, using a model similar to the likes of WeWork.

  • 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. To enable both cross-departmental and external collaboration, buildings should be open and inviting with multi-functional and adaptable spaces for co-working.
RMIT New Academic Street was transformed into a dynamic, future-looking city campus with flexible student hubs and community areas.
Arup architects and engineers opened the campus to the surrounding streetscape, creating light-filled laneways, glass-roofed arcades, rooftop urban spaces and new learning spaces.

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.

Dr Chris Luebkeman
Arup Fellow and Global Director Foresight, Research and Innovation

The Campus of the Future report examines the key trends affecting the design, operation and experience of higher education campuses.