Facility Management students design their own learning space

Collaboration between the degree programme and the service organisation forms a prelude to the new building in Amsterdam

From the coming academic year, the education provided by the degree programme in Facility Management (FM) will be organised in a completely different manner. From day 1, students will work on practice-based issues on a project basis, with lecturers conveying demand-driven knowledge as coaches. This form of education requires a different type of teaching and learning space than a simple, traditional classroom. On the eve of the construction of the new Inholland building in the Amsterdam Sluis neighbourhood, that need is more relevant than ever. What should such a space look like? No one is better placed at Inholland to answer this question than FM students themselves. The degree programme and the Inholland service organisation in Diemen therefore asked third-year students to design a learning space.

The FM degree programme contacted the service organisation a few months ago: 'We talked to Facilities Management to see whether we could carry out any experiments that would be beneficial to us later in the Sluis neighbourhood', explains Elze Reitsema, lecturer in Workplace & Real Estate Management (minor). 'I saw the Creative Growth Initiative programme as an example. A dedicated space was designed especially for project-based working under that programme but I just wanted to go the extra mile in creating a dedicated project space for our students.'

Design freedom
No more classes, but all eighty first-year students in one learning landscape, with lecturers in their midst to offer them support every day, where necessary. That was the idea. 'For such a large number of students, you would now need to break open an entire wing, ha ha!’ Within the Workplace & Real Estate Management minor, where third-year students focus on accommodation and the use of space, eight teams designed a learning space for their future fellow students. Each group came up with their own solution. Elze: 'The space on the first floor (A1.18 and A1.20) had already been designated and we also set out a number of framework conditions, but they were given complete design freedom within those constraints.'

Myrthe Dortants, whose work in the service organisation involves facilities management and accommodation, has been appointed project leader of the refurbishment of the two former classrooms, together with Merel de Boer. 'I’ve seen proposals containing really exceptional and creative ideas. We had a clear top 3 of best designs, but we ultimately selected the best elements from among all eight proposals, which actually closely matched the image that we ourselves had envisaged. We are currently fine-tuning the ideas, to determine, for example, especially during this coronavirus pandemic, which audiovisual media we can additionally use to create a good connection with students at home, so that we can work together in that way. We will give the green light shortly and start with the refurbishment and furnishings and fittings this summer.'

Shared experience
The focus is on first-year students, especially given that the 1.5-metre society will be maintained in the Netherlands for the time being: no more than 20-25 students are allowed to be in the room at the same time. Myrthe: 'Senior students should also be given the opportunity to share the experience and feel invited to work together. We have therefore incorporated the lobby and other nearby work spaces. This will make the entire floor an attractive space for studying. It is also rewarding to instantly recognise that this is the location of the FM degree programme.' Elze adds: 'Moreover, the learning space will not be locked. I expect that it will almost always be occupied. For the rest, you would need a crystal ball to predict developments in the coming months. I believe it is important to engage with first-year students. You won’t achieve this with a computer screen. I don’t believe in that. That’s why it’s positive that a relatively large amount of on-site time will be reserved for first-year students in Diemen.'

What design ideas will now actually be used for the learning space? 'We will start working with zones, for example, each of which will be assigned their own colour', Myrthe explains. 'The leisure space will be green and the focus space yellow. Group work will take place in the blue zone. We will use those colours on the furniture and walls. Furthermore, we have selected a diverse range of furniture: alternating between high and low, project tables, train seating and a gallery for presentations. A cork wall will be installed where students can go wild and hang up all kinds of things, so that they can be easily visualised. It should actually start feeling like their own space.'

New building in the Sluis neighbourhood
'I see a shift in the use of space', says Elze. 'To be able to focus, you work from home, whereas you meet up and work together in a building. A different division of space is increasingly being used in education buildings, with sloping floors and large galleries often integrating seating areas.' Myrthe chips in: 'In our new building in the Sluis neighbourhood, the entrance hall has the form of a gallery. It wraps around the floors. The gallery form can be used not only for events, but also for meeting up and working together. Many more learning spaces will be created in addition to theory rooms. That’s why it’s really beneficial that we’re now already working with this in Diemen.'

Elze: 'Our education will be designed around practical issues. The beauty of it is that we immediately dealt with this practical issue. The collaboration between the Inholland FM degree programme and the FM department really is a win-win situation. We have also been helping each other in other areas in the recent period. A group of students, for example, took it upon themselves to work on coronavirus measures in our building. That’s a welcome development, in my view.'

Comments (0)
Thank you for your message. It will be posted after approval.