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!