Project: Implementation

Comparative field research and studio work is proposed in different urban contexts and cities in order to cover various levels and scales of analysis. A stepwise, dynamic and flexible process is proposed, including the following critical steps:

  1. Field Work: setting-up local teams, under an international collaborative framework, involving students, designers, scholars and experts worldwide;
  2. Studio Work: to complement and deepen the field work, as well as to open the discussion to new and creative options and alternatives for campuses design;
  3. Series of Research Workshops: to discuss the progress of work and help engaging stakeholders, including the organization of international conferences;
  4. Reporting: engaging in a collaborative work leading to high quality written material and the publication of new reference materials at world leading level.

Appendix 2 includes a preliminary list of cities and institutions (yet to be confirmed), identifying a potential set of case studies.

 Possible levels of analysis need to consider urban planning and the design of “knowledge infrastructures” from different scales and levels of analysis and a number of related questions in association with the emerging understanding of “the university” and/or research facilities and their role in modern societies. Possible scales and levels of analysis may include:

Campus design: work, live and interact on the campus.

The goal is to look at the design of campuses and science parks in terms of their impact on the social context and interaction with academic, scientific and economic goals. The work will consider potential scenarios and paths about the way the built environment interacts with people to foster processes of social and economic integration, in a way to both preserve and foster the sophistication necessary to university campuses and science parks.

Potential examples may include the comparative analysis of the campus of Tshingua, in Beijing, Rio de Janeiro Federal University campus at “Ilha do Fundão”, as well as their comparative analysis with traditional campus of Harvard in Cambridge/Boston. In addition, the study of new campuses and science parks established in urban peripheries in the last twenty years my consider Taguspark, in the vicinity of Lisbon, Luanda, or Istanbul. Emerging plans for new campuses may consider Skolkovo and Macao.

It will address among other questions: To what extent spatial and temporal flexibility should drive new campuses design? How far the campus site overall (including the individual buildings and the spaces within them) should be a place which enables the students, teachers and researchers to undergo experiences that are transformative? How can the impact of residential campuses and distributed university environments be compared?

Urban design: the city-campus interaction.

The goal is to revisit large scale urban planning in terms of the spatial integration of knowledge infrastructures in cities, in a way to both preserve the uniqueness necessary to the university campus, or the science park, but also opening the campus concept to foster processes of social and economic integration.

Potential examples include the comparative analysis of cities such as Moscow, with more than 200 universities and other knowledge infrastructures, including the recently established city of Skolkovo, Rio de Janeiro, with the new campus of the local Federal University at the outskirt of the city, or Lisbon, with a number of institutions spread over the entire city. Istanbul and its various university campuses can also serve for in-depth analysis. For comparative terms, the city of Boston/Cambridge and its numerous campuses and institutions will be analyzed.

This raises key contemporary issues, including: i) the extent of spatial concentration versus spatial dispersion in campuses structuring; and ii) the definition of inner city locus versus city nodes or outskirts. While the former requires discussing the concept of “campus boundary” and its relative “permeability”, the latter requires understanding the complex social interactions involved in the promotion of university campuses or science parks in urban peripheries.

Building design and interaction with the campus: Inside the realm of learning.

The goal is to look inside a diversified set of existing university and science buildings and their spaces and question the need to revisit learning environments in a way to better accommodate emerging functions for the university. The analysis will consider conventional classrooms as well as collaborative learning studio spaces, identifying emerging issues associated with the requirements for understanding flexibility, together with the necessary “ambience” to provide both formal and informal learning spaces in the decades to come.

It will address among other questions: Do universities just require more versatile spaces? Or do we need to better understand the “places of learning” and the variety of options for students to work in different ways, as well as to stimulate the ability for teachers to adopt different instructional approaches? Do such changes need to be accompanied by broad efforts to overcome the separation of “formal” learning environments (such as classrooms, libraries and laboratories) and “informal” social spaces (such as cafeterias and student lounges), which has characterized traditional campus design?

On the other hand, traditional, teacher-centred instruction today is still central to the design of many university campuses worldwide, particularly the lecture theatres and other formal classrooms. Although the implementation of more student-centred and flexible learning approaches have been introduced in higher education worldwide, recent attempts to create new teaching and learning facilities on university campuses have often resulted in celebrated architecture that has proved to be educationally problematic. This raises the question as to what types of physical settings are required to support the teaching and learning processes emerging in higher education?

Further questions that need exploring are: How to better integrate technology-enabled active learning environments in existing spaces? How far do we need to go beyond existing formal and informal learning spaces and, for example, consider purpose-built spaces for information sharing and “third learning” space concepts? How to facilitate access to the increasing number, type and diversity of sources of information for the students, but also ensure that student-teacher interaction and, in general, social interaction, is in the realm of learning? In order to improve current “places of learning”, do we need to go beyond flexibility or functionalism?

It should be clear that these three potential levels of analysis will require a stepwise implementation, to be designed and improved along the implementation of the work. At the launching phase it is proposed to start only with the first level of analysis given. Then, the proposed work may move to the remaining levels of analysis in the years to come.


Please look at the following sections of this working paper:


Introduction: goal and approach

Context and background

Implementation and field research (This page)

Work proposal

Appendix 1: background information and sample literature survey

Appendix 2: Preliminary list of cities and institutions for field research