Thursday, 29 December 2016

Piazza Episode 5 - Return of the Comfy Seating

No building would be complete without an atrium, and the Piazza building is no exception. The ground floor of the atrium area is going to house a 350-seat servery, with areas on the first and second floor earmarked for touch down spaces for use between lectures.

As a placeholder, these areas have been configured with relaxed seating and coffee tables, however we’ll be looking at alternative layouts in the new year. These might include booth seating, which is great for group working and allows us to make good laptop power provision, or might be based around relaxed seating but with higher, more laptop friendly, tables instead.

If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see, please let us know via the usual e-mail address ( so that we can take them into account when we start looking at furniture options along with flooring, colours and other finishes over the next few months.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Piazza Episode 4 - The Flat Floor Awakens

Hopefully the subject of a guest blog in the new year, one of the ‘behind the scenes’ activities in Space Management is the modelling of space requirements for teaching.

With the inclusion of a new lecture theatre in the Piazza Building we’re able to look at using other Campus East rooms such as LMB/030+31 as two rooms rather than one - which in turn frees up one of the new spaces in the Piazza building.

Rather than equipping that space for lectures, which would create a flat-floored lecture room for a maximum of 100 (though, significantly less with high quality writing surfaces), we’ve been looking at setting it up as a space for student societies, exhibitions and other uses instead.

We’d still include the infrastructure for a lecture space (power for projectors, somewhere to connect a lectern, etc) but have removed the floor box that would have fed a lectern so that we can provide the most solid floor space possible. To that end, we’ll also be looking at fitting the room with a solid floor rather than carpet, so that groups like dance societies can make best use of it. And with that in mind, we’ll still plan to install some speakers so that users of the room can plug in a laptop or phone for music.

Of all of the spaces in the new building, this is one of the most exciting as we have the possibility to do something a bit different to address non-teaching needs in the University community, so if you have a use for this kind of space please do get in touch with us ( if what we’re planning would suit your needs or if there's something else that you’d like us to consider adding!


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Piazza Episode 3 - The Empire Lights Back

The new Piazza Building will include a large lecture theatre with about 350 seats, although we’ll be discussing exactly which seats to use in the new year (as ever, suggestions welcome via The tablet chairs as shown below are only indicative - there will be a writing bench similar to our other high quality theatres.

At this month’s Working Group, we discussed power provision (a socket per every three or four seats, similar to Spring Lane) and technology provision.

The height adjustable lectern that we introduced in Spring Lane has been well received, so will be repeated. However, we’ll be moving it away from the seats a little, so that it sits about halfway between them and the projection screens. We’ll also be shrinking the lectern from the three metres wide in Spring Lane to closer to two metres in Piazza to help make sure that there’ll still be plenty of free space at the front of the theatre.

We’ll be pairing the lectern with another video flipchart table which, like in Spring Lane, will allow the use of the projection screens (two, about the same size as Spring Lane) instead of traditional whiteboards.  Working seamlessly with lecture capture, as well as providing more virtual writing space than we’d have been able to fit had we used traditional column boards, the video flipchat has received overwhelmingly positive feedback so far - though we will be looking at making it a little more presentable in its next incarnation!

As well as taking the best bits of our recent builds and refurbishments, we’re always looking for ways to improve our spaces. One of the things we’re looking at for the Piazza Building is the lecture theatre lighting. As well as the standard strip lights that we find in lecture theatre across campus, we’d like to include some more focused lighting towards the front of the theatre. This will help to create a ‘performance space’ at the front of the theatre, as well as making the projections look better and simultaneously making the speaker is easier to see.

Speaking of performance spaces, next time will be a look at a potential societies space within the Piazza Building.


Monday, 19 December 2016

Piazza Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones

The majority of space in the Piazza Building is made up of seminar rooms - over 30 in total - which will seat about 20 people in a horseshoe setup similar to that used in the Spring Lane Building. The success of the Spring Lane Building provides a great blueprint for the planning for the Piazza Building.

Inspiration from the Spring Lane Building

The continuing use of ‘desk style’ teaching positions as part of the horseshoe setup has been popular, so will be continued. The ‘windows’ to the interior of the building have also been well received - students being able to spot empty rooms and make use of them has been mentioned repeatedly in feedback, and the Spring Lane Building’s heavy usage (already among the heaviest on campus!) owes significantly to them so they’ll be repeated and enlarged in the new building.

One of the lessons learned from the Spring Lane Building has been that power provision for laptops is important in seminar rooms, as students might have a couple of 2-3 hour seminars in a day, with no chance to recharge laptops in between. Originally, the Piazza seminar rooms had been designed with ample plug sockets - in some cases, enough for one per person. However, having considered concerns relating to trailing cables, Helen and I have been tasked with investigating furniture with integrated power, which will allow a socket at every seat. Should it be successful, it will be something that we can look at retrofitting elsewhere in our learning estate.

Turning to the technology, our recommendation that we explore wireless presentation receivers was well received. Hopefully a subject of their own article in the new year, inclusion of these in each room would free the lecturer to deliver from anywhere in the room as well as facilitating the use of touchscreen laptops or tablets to enable a more interactive style of teaching. We’ll also be looking to include a digital OHP in every room, as well as Replay functionality (watch this space for articles on those subjects too!) throughout.

Next, a look at the 350-seat lecture theatre.


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Piazza Episode 1 - A New Hope

At this week’s Learning Spaces Working Group, Helen Stephenson (Estates Project Manager) and I presented our first round of recommendations for the Piazza Building - a new teaching and catering building due to come into use for Spring Term 2018.

Artist's impression of the Piazza Building's position on Campus East

Situated on the University’s Campus East site near the Ron Cooke Hub, between Langwith College and the lake, it’s our first big opportunity since teaching buildings were first constructed on the East Campus to review space needs and respond to six years - nearly seven and a half by the time it’s live - of exciting growth and development of the departments based there, plus provide a new home base for our up and coming International Pathway College.

Having looked at those space needs, and the space that we expect to need for the next few years, the building will include:
  • a lecture theatre, to seat approximately 350
  • over 30 seminar rooms, each seating approximately 20
  • a catering space, to seat about 350, with full commercial kitchen
  • various circulation areas, set up to support study or group work between timetabled sessions
  • a flat-floored space, which could be used as a 100 seat lecture theatre but we’re hoping to leave available for student lead activities.
All of which I’ll be taking a closer look at in a series of posts leading through to the new year.

Learning Spaces Installations & Project Manager

Friday, 25 November 2016

SLB Experimental Spaces

As well as providing a lecture theatre and 23 high quality collaborative seminar rooms, the Spring Lane Building has three more learning spaces above the lecture theatre. Each has a different, innovative, furniture layout and soon one with a new technology mix to match.

SLB/211, which opened for bookings this week has a mixture of bench seating and movable seats. The island tables make this room ideal for sessions involving a lot of impromptu group work, reconvening back to a whole group discussion.

SLB/210 is our agile lab, with everyone able to face the presentation zone with having a writing surface, also supporting use as a collaborative layout with additional chairs at the tables – as well as a centre table at the front with additional furniture to break out. 

SLB/209, due to open early spring, will dispense with projection entirely and instead feature five screens mounted around the room – each for a group of six to use a dedicated PC, a laptop or view slides from the teaching position. I know our friends over in the E-Learning team are looking forward to this one!

And, when the class is over, there’s a great mix of informal learning spaces directly outside the spaces to continue discussions.

Learning Spaces Installations & Project Manager

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Watch this space: introducing occupancy sensors

Last year, a look at our AV systems revealed that they’re frequently turned on long after the last lecture or seminar of the day has finished. I’m sure we’ve all walked past a window on an evening, only to see a room lit blue.

With the teaching day often finishing at 6pm, but our projectors only being able to switch themselves off at midnight (allowing for twilight sessions), that could be up to six hours of electricity and lamp life wasted! We estimate that about a third of the time that the projectors are turned on, they could be turned off.

Starting with this summer’s buildings – Spring Lane and the new Biology T Block – and then each time we update a room, we’ll add sensors to the AV kit that tell it whether there’s someone there to use it. Once the room’s empty, and after a bit of a wait just in case, it’ll turn itself off. We get to save the planet and rather than buying all of those lamps, spend the money on things that you want instead.

This is a case of a good Big Brother watching over our learning spaces.

Learning Spaces Installations & Project Manager

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Update from the Learning Spaces Working Group meeting on 14 November 2016

As previously reported the working group has been looking to address your Spring Lane Building feedback.

We have a limited amount of funding remaining and after reviewing the available options, the group have individually prioritised each option. The scores have been counted and the following works are now progressing.

1. Progressing a fit-out proposal for tables and benches with integrated power provision for the atrium (under the main stairs for the building). This should be in place by the end of February 2017.

Option 1

Option 2

2. Extra touch-down/study furniture on first and second levels including looking out through the glazing (north and south):

3. Extra furniture outside the first floor lecture theatre entrance:

4. Extra furniture to provide an additional 28 seat in the study space, including some of the popular ‘Cube’ chairs as seen in the Harry Fairhurst learning space:

The items marked in colour will be added to the existing furniture (shown in grey)

5. Extra furniture outside the ground floor lecture theatre exit (vending area)

6. Internal and external signage updates
7. Artwork/branding on the lecture theatre walls to break up white space
8. An additional table in each seminar room alcove for papers, artefacts, catering, etc
9. Kitchenette provision in or around SLB/010 for staff and student use for light refreshments - this was highly requested our Students’ Union representatives and will take some time to provide in the correct location
10. Additional furniture outside the study space to extend it:

Furniture is typically on an eight-week lead time so we hope to have some of these items in place during the start of the Spring Term 2017.

Please do keep your feedback coming to

Best wishes,

Chair of the Learning Spaces Working Group

Friday, 18 November 2016

Santa Claus is coming to Campus West - our Christmas Learning Spaces refurbishment programme

Guest blog from Eve Firth, Learning Spaces Installations and Project Manager

With Christmas rapidly approaching, we’re looking at continuing our rolling cycle of AV refreshes in rooms across campus and planning to add in painting, carpets, furniture replacement and other works where needed so that we can return the rooms to use with a fresh new feel - inspired by the popularity of the new Spring Lane seminar rooms.

First on our list are six rooms in James College. We plan to upgrade G/N/001, G/N/002, G/N/010, G/N/013, G/N/020 with widescreen, brighter projectors and the kit to feed them including HDMI inputs for more modern laptops. 

G/N/010 as it looks now

We’re also going to replace the carpets - and install new, high quality induction loop systems while we’re doing it - and tidy up the walls so that we can add more boards space. In rooms that are currently set out in rows, we plan to swap them to a horseshoe style - with a teaching desk rather than a lectern and comfier chairs all round.

B/M/023, B/M/049 and B/M/052 are also due an upgrade. Again, we’ll be putting widescreen projectors and HDMI in each room, as well as a teaching desk to complement B/M/049, with its round-table layout.  B/M/023 and B/M/052 will keep their current layout, with the lecterns replaced and new boards across the front walls. Following the success of the writing surfaces in Spring Lane, we’ve keen to provide as much useful writing space as possible, so have asked suppliers for these works to suggest new ways that we can do that.

Also in Biology, we’ll be undertaking more extensive works in B/B/103, including a ceiling and lighting replacement and build of a new teaching wall. As well as the AV upgrade, that’ll mean a new layout, possibly based on the more group-work friendly furniture found in seminar rooms SLB/210 and SLB/211 on the top floor of the Spring Lane Building.

A potential layout for B/B/103

W/N/218, formerly a PC training room, will be converted into a new seminar room, with new kit AV kit and a new layout, once the power and data sockets have been removed from the floor! V/B/023 eLab will also receive a new AV equipment install, including a move to widescreen projection.

While we work on initial pricings, more detailed feedback requests have been sent to local users and to any use of the spaces recently. However, feedback from everyone is welcome - please email your questions or comments to!

Learning Spaces Installations & Project Manager

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Springing into action on your feedback

We are now well into the Autumn term and your feedback on the Spring Lane Building has been heard!

We now have an action log of 52 suggestions (we heard about some items quite a few times but they are only recorded on the list once) that the Learning Spaces Working Group received this Monday, for decision on how we progress them. Some are already compete (thanks to colleagues within Estates and Campus Services for acting so promptly when they were received). Here is a sample of the items.


  • Clocks
    There is now one installed in each seminar room.
  • Water fountains and drink/snack vending machines
    We have installed vending machines and water fountains are now available on each level.
  • Add the building to the campus map
    The building is now marked on the interactive campus map, and updated pdfs will be online very soon.
  • Magnets for the whiteboards in the seminar rooms
    We have added a supply to each room.
  • More waste bins in the building
    We have reviewed the provision and installed additional as required, including some new external bins.

In progress

  • Gender neutral toilet provision in the building
    We designed this from the outset by putting in full-height cubicles throughout and as well as eight neutral and accessible toilets within the building. After consultation with the Equality and Diversity Office, we propose to convert the middle floor to fully gender neutral.
  • More parking in the area
    We are in the process of removing the site cabins from the central car park and will then re-instate the parking spaces in the area.
  • More seating in the building, especially after climbing the stairs
    We are in the process of procuring additional seating for use throughout the building.
  • Additional bike storage outside the building
    The building’s Facilities Manager is working on this with the University’s Travel and Transport Manager.
  • More signage in the building, particularly to the toilets and the lecture theatre entrance
    The Facilities Manager is working on this.
  • Mobile whiteboards for the study area on the top floor
    We’ve placed an order for these.
  • More technology in the teaching rooms (digital overhead projectors)We have placed the order to increase the quantity of ‘visualisers’.
  • Food/drink preparation facilities
    We are investigating installing a small kitchenette in the building - with hot (boiling) water, a sink, etc.

Not able to progress

  • A cash machine in the building
    Unfortunately this would take up valuable space in the building and there are a number in neighbouring Vanbrugh College and Market Square.
  • Urinals in the men’s toilets
    We designed this building to be able to function as fully gender neutral in the future and so did not provide these. There is a high quantity of individual cubicles as a result.
  • Indoor wildlife (and puppies)
    As we are based on a beautiful parkland estate, the group felt that we would not progress the request at this time.

We really value your feedback. Please keep it coming!

Best wishes,


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Your seat at the table - have your say on the future of our learning spaces

As part of our ongoing commitment to staff and student consultation, we're undertaking a week of activity to seek feedback on the use of learning space within the Spring Lane Building and future developments.

Come along to the Spring Lane Building (map) between today and Friday 18 November to tell us about your 'must have' and 'could have' room facilities, and take part in our 'House of Chairs' vote.

We'll also be conducting face-to-face surveys in the building and circulating an online survey to recent Spring Lane room users.

The feedback will be used to help us understand how you're using the new building as shaping future projects like the Piazza Learning Centre.

We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Spring Lane has landed

What a month September was for us! Cutting a very long story short, the handover of the building was delayed and we took practical completion on Friday 30 September, with the doors opening for the first sessions by 9am on Monday 3 October (Week 2).

Huge thanks to everyone involved in the project - it was such a fantastic team effort and special shout-outs must go firstly to our in-house Learning Spaces and AV team who built and installed the equipment in the learning spaces, and to our Facilities Manager John Maddison who is in the building most days making sure things are working as they should.

We still have lots to finish off (defects/snags) but the learning spaces themselves are receiving some fantastic feedback on twitter, email and on the feedback board we have in the Atrium.

Here are a sample of some of the comments:

We’re going through all of these and will take the feedback to the Learning Spaces Working Group, so we can look at how we can address items. More ‘You said, we did’ to come! For example, the water fountains are being installed very soon, the vending machines are almost operational and we have a Multi-Functional Device (MFD) going on the top floor of the building for printing, photocopying and scanning.

One of my personal favourites for the building: our first video wall on campus! You will see some great content coming this way in the future. We’re also busy installing other digital display screens around the building to show ‘what’s happening’ right now along with other messaging to keep staff and students in the loop.

Make sure you pop in and have a look around if you get the chance, and we’d love to hear from you. Please let us know what you like and what you think could be improved!

Matt Burton

Friday, 16 September 2016

New boards in Hendrix Hall

As mentioned in the previous blog post, we’ve installed new boards in Hendrix Hall (D/L/028).

Responding to the frequent requests from academics who use the space - the boards are now counter-weighted and can be moved by hand, rather than the former motorised boards.


Here’s to seeing them full of academic content soon (but of course cleaned after each session).


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Learning Spaces update - September 2016

Sorry it has been a while since the last update. Colleagues across the University are busy working on a number of projects that will enhance the experience in a number of learning spaces. Keep an eye out for the following improvements!

New carpets installed in:
Alcuin - ARRC/010 auditorium
Derwent - D/104 seminar room
King’s Manor - K/G07 seminar room
Sally Baldwin D/002, D/003 and D/008 seminar rooms
Vanbrugh - V/123, V/139 and V/C/123 seminar rooms

We’ve redecorated a number of rooms this summer to freshen them up.

We’ve installed new furniture in:
Biology - Biology B/B/102 and B/B/103 seminar rooms
Biology - Biology B/K/090
Derwent - D/L/007 and D/159 seminar rooms

We’ve installed new learning technology in:
Alcuin - AEW/003 lecture room and video link to Hull
Alcuin - AEW/105 seminar room
Berrick Saul - BS/005 auditorium
Chemistry - C/B/102 lecture room
Derwent - D/M/212 seminar room
Library - LFA/144 seminar room
Vanbrugh - V/139 seminar room
Grimston House - VX/230 and 231 seminar/meeting rooms

We’ve installed new teaching boards in D/L/028 Hendrix Hall and V/045 Vanbrugh lecture rooms.

We’ve also had lots going on behind the scenes for the Spring Lane Building before the handover in a few weeks, with a rapid ‘fit out’ programme for furniture and learning technology before teaching commences.

We’re now starting more detailed planning and discussions at the Learning Spaces Working Group for the Piazza Building on Campus East, due to open in spring 2018, and pulling together a programme of improvement works for existing teaching and learning spaces this year on campus. More to be shared soon!


Monday, 25 July 2016

Spring Lane Building: working group site visit and building progress

On 14 June, members of the Spring Lane Building Steering Group and the Learning Spaces Working Group were given the opportunity to go on a tour to see the progress of the new Spring Lane Teaching Building. Donning the obligatory PPE, we were led around the building site by a Graham Construction representative.

Amid the noise and liveliness of the busy site, It was great to finally get a feeling for what the spaces will be like.

Lecture theatre

The 350 seat lecture theatre is really starting to take shape, with its curved design clearly visible.

Lecture theatre taking shape.jpg

Seminar rooms

The generously-sized seminar rooms were even further along, with carpets laid and the first coats of paint in the vibrantly coloured alcoves on the walls. The ceiling baffles really give the rooms a modern and airy feel.

Coloured alcove in a seminar room.jpg

Slack for iOS Upload.jpg


The glazed atrium was particularly impressive - even without the central staircase! It will be a fantastic, bright space once the scaffolding comes down. In the second photo you can see all three floors.

Looking towards Alcuin and the  glazed atrium .jpg

Shame we are putting in a central stair core. Nice void. .jpg

Informal study space

The informal study space above the lecture theatre makes excellent use of the views across the canopy of trees and will definitely become a popular place to relax or study.

There’s still a lot to be done before the start of term in September, but it’s exciting to see how the building has already come together so quickly. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on its progress and hopefully the Group will be able to go on another visit later in the summer - watch this space!


Thursday, 14 July 2016

How we allocate teaching space and who will be in the Spring Lane Building next year

We all want the best space to operate out of (he says writing this blog post from a basement). So it’s only natural that we have the question posed quite regularly about how and who has the different learning spaces allocated on campus.

Timetabling Principles

Our University Teaching Committee receives and approves the annual Space Management/Timetabling report and periodically reviews the Timetabling Principles that we operate by at York. The two principles that directly apply to the space allocation are:

7.  Where competing demand for spaces with specific facilities (including large boards, chalk surfaces, blackout curtains, etc) exists, sessions requiring these facilities will take priority during the timetable construction. These requirements should be identified during the annual timetable construction round. If demand for a particular space outstrips supply and cannot be accommodated through the provision of additional equipment, sessions shall be prioritised with the needs of the session size foremost. As far as possible, sessions will be located in the most appropriate and geographically close location to the department home zone.

8. Space utilisation must be maximised within the constraints of these principles, with all non-specialist space to be available for general use outside teaching activities. Space utilisation will be audited at least once a year and reported to the University Teaching Committee (UTC). 

If we apply this to the Spring Lane Building we have the following specific facilities that come into play:

  • A 350-seat lecture theatre, with blackout, and board replacement technology (a large, digital overhead projector)
  • 23 seminar rooms, of which eight have full blackout and larger screen/projection facilities. All in boardroom seminar format for up to 20
  • Three experimental spaces (which for the purposes of this blog post I will exclude)

So when it comes to the lecture theatre, by and large we are seeking to house the cohort sizes that require this size provided by the lecture theatre first, then utilising the remaining capacity. Given the board replacement technology the theatre has the potential to work for most teaching delivered at this size. A store room to the undercroft of the lecture theatre seating allows for storing science experiments too!

The 23 seminar rooms are most likely to be the highly contended spaces. They complement our existing learning space capacity with the same facilities and, broadly speaking, we have aimed to allocate the activities that require these evenly. Taking the timetabling principle into account though, the departments closest to the building (ie in the ‘home zone’) may have a higher density of activity.

Actual usage of the Spring Lane Building

For the first year of operation, eight of the top floor seminar rooms are set aside for use by the International Pathway College’s inaugural year. Any further need will be accommodated in capacity throughout the learning and teaching estate as needed.

The headline figures for the number of hours booked in the building so far for next year are below (this includes all year round, evenings, vacation time known so far).

Booked hours
Centre for Applied Human Rights
Centre for English Language Teaching
Centre for Global Programmes
Centre for Lifelong Learning (predominantly outside of teaching hours)
English and Related Literature
Health Sciences
History of Art
Languages and Linguistics
Politics, Economics and Philosophy
Social Policy and Social Work
Support - Admissions (predominantly outside of teaching hours)
Support - General room bookings
Support - Exams
Support - Central booking including IPC allocations
Centre for Women’s Studies

As you can see, a fairly good amount of hours for departments that suit the type of learning space provided.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Spring Lane Building - sample room layouts and working group update

The Learning Spaces Working Group met following a recent site visit and have ratified a lot of the small detail recommendations from the day.

The big topic of discussion was the final recommendation to put to the Steering Group with the quantity and preferred style of layout of rooms as discussed in the last blog post.

Here are some pictures:

Agile Lab
One of the suggested layouts for a lounge/film screening room

High quality, flexible seminar room layout (note the chairs / furniture are for illustration - we actually have our nice Torsion Air chairs, bespoke tables and benches

The same room in a flexible, collaborative layout without moving any heavy furniture
We hope to receive the go-ahead from the Steering Group shortly!


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Derwent D/056 and Vanbrugh V/044 refurbishment updates - we're almost live!

The works have been progressing at a pace and there’s lots to report.


Derwent’s new collaborative lecture/learning space is almost ready for use. In fact, we did use it at the University Open Days at the end of June!

The collaborative furniture is in place with a plug socket per occupant and plenty of space to both face forward and shuffle round to work in a group. We tried it out and loved it - we can’t wait to see what you think of it!

We hope the new seating will work really well for collaborative working as well as lectures

We’ve also installed new energy efficient air-handling system to tackle the room’s problems with ventilation/heating (your feedback told us it was either too hot and stuffy or too cold).

The new setup features a new 3 metre projection screen alongside the old teaching boards, which have been cleaned up and recycled. A new, larger lectern is in place at the front with all the standard spec for a lecture room and a visualiser (digital overhead projector) to replace the old OHP that has served the room well for some time! The room is also kitted out for the University’s Lecture Capture (Replay) system.

The new teaching equipment in position

We have some final touches and snags before the room is ready to be used by summer activity on campus, including some final accessibility issues to address and improvements we’d like to make to the external area outside, facing the pond and looking out on to the campus lake.

D/056 from the outside - featuring new windows and doors


Our full refurbishment of the seminar room at the heart of Vanbrugh College is also nearing completion. We recently spent some time selecting a new specification of seminar chair for campus (you can see these in the last Spring Lane working group update) and these should arrive for September. Meanwhile, things are starting to come together for the learning space which will feature:

  • Fully replaced glazing and with full blackout (especially for Art Historians!)
  • 3 metre central projection and renewed AV equipment for the room
  • Full height ‘think’ wall down the side of the room - essentially a giant whiteboard!
  • Bespoke tables and overhead lighting to match the table layout, fully dimmable
  • Glazed lobby doors (with a curtain) to easily see if a class is taking place
  • Improved ventilation system

We look forward to hearing what you think about the space once it’s finished!


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Spring Lane Building - furniture update

On Tuesday 28 June, a delegation from the Learning Spaces Working Group took a day out of the diaries to travel to sunny* Macclesfield, to be hosted by Broadstock Office Furniture, the successful tenderers for the Spring Lane Building.

We spent a number of hours trying out lots of samples of chairs, collaborative furniture and the bespoke seminar room table we have had designed for the building.

*not so sunny

Seminar chairs

We are ordering almost 500 of these chairs, so as a working group we were committed to selecting the correct chair the fit the brief we had produced: putting comfort and durability first.

After testing a number of chairs, the group settled on a version of the Torsion Air chair (pictured below), without castors (we hate castors!) and with a fabric to match the colour palette of the building. These were by far the most comfortable chair, a very comfortable mesh back (which surprised us - we were looking for upholstered) and they have some movement in the back which worked really well.  To top things off they carry a 12 year guarantee!

The chair frames will be black, with a black mesh back and fabric seat base.

We have a number of other learning spaces upgrades this summer and we will aim to use the same seminar chair, as far as appropriate, in these spaces too.

Seminar tables

We have had a bespoke table made for the seminar rooms - with solid wooden legs (which match the trim colour of the seminar room doors) and a walnut top (to match the main room doors). They look mighty fine, if we do say so ourselves!  Good job we tested these out though - the beam under the table needs a minor adjustment to be completely clear of tall people’s knees!

One of the great things about these tables, we feel, is that they take on board the feedback we have received from users of our whole estate. Specifically they are solid and do not pivot in the middle. They are not on wheels. The frame design is such that you can sit at any of the four sides of the table and fit underneath without hitting a leg (or support beam now!)

We’re also putting in a couple of low-level benches in each room too, on the inside of the horseshoe, so that classes can move about without moving the chairs - allowing a large group to breakout at different points in the session.

Professor John Robinson, Lee Woodall (Broadstock), Ruth Hale and Thomas Ron consider the the chosen ‘Torsion Air’. You can see the table and matching bench in the background.

Agile/Experimental spaces

Broadstock presented the Working Group with four samples to work with (pictures to follow):
  1. A small raked lecture room that can break into collaborative mode, moving people (not furniture).  So the front row is standard table height and chair, progressively increasing in height until the back row is ‘poser’ height.
  2. A workshop layout, with 5-6 ‘plectrum’ tables that we may technology-enable.  This would work for a true collaborative layout although would not comfortably function for a round-table discussion.  Frames would be white to match the tables.
  3. A casual seminar room - using soft seating in a teardrop / horse-shoe, with a selection of writing surfaces but more ‘lounge’ like.

The working group are recommending we proceed with 3 x experimental / agile seminar layouts and 23, high quality boardroom seminars.  This will be decided by the Steering Group next Monday.  We will look to replace furniture elsewhere on campus if/as/when new furniture layouts/styles are required to fit with the new York Pedagogy roll-out.

Informal Learning spaces

Thankfully for the group, Liz Waller, Deputy Director of Information Services had taken a day last week to visit ahead of the working group delegation, creating detailed plans for the main flexible learning spaces with a blend of:
  • Informal group/lounge furniture
  • Individual workspaces (tables and chairs)
  • Individual lounge chairs
  • Print/copy area fit out

Utilising the similar furniture, a number of smaller touch-down areas exist in the building and will follow the same format.

During the visit, the delegation decided to recommend that the ‘Reception’ area of the building be deferred until the main central stairs were installed, to see how the building feels in that area first.


Colour scheme

Everyone’s favourite topic!

The Spring Lane Building has an autumnal theme of mellow yellow, burnt orange, tree green, red and grey. Broadstock presented a number of palette swatches and the delegation supported the closest matching palette, as previously outlined in the design intent document for the building and agreed by the working group.

Thanks to Liz, John Robinson, John Maddison, Jeanne Nuechterlein, Geoff Krauss, Sarah Bacsich, Ruth Hale and YUSU officer Thomas Ron for taking time for the visit. And to colleagues Lee and Wendy at Broadstock for hosting us.

We’re excited that the building is really coming together now. The furniture is due to arrive in early September, with plenty of time to spare before the first use early October. We can't wait for you to see it!