The former student services building at the University of Liverpool has undergone a 54-week renovation project to transform from an office block into a thriving centre for student activity.
Teaching Hub 502 now offers a mix of lecture theatre, group study, computer suites, seminar rooms and social study areas. The facilities created to maximise the use of available space and provide students with a relaxed environment for formal and informal learning.
Working alongside audiovisual integrator Pure Audio Visual, the University explored how to design and implement solutions to ensure all spaces, regardless of physical design and usage are accessible, easy to operate and available to students for the maximum amount of time possible.
To encourage usage, each space regardless of type has a standard user interface. Rooms are available to students outside of scheduled teaching times and connectivity is made as simple as it is flexible.
There are straightforward Extron push-button control panels and simple input plates alongside each display, offering on, off, volume control and input selection. Room users choose whether to login to their university account through the in-room PC or connect their own devices either using cable or wirelessly through the Kramer Via system.
The display format, camera and audio solution are scaled up or down to meet the requirement of the size, light condition and type of room.
To further maximise technology usage and building occupancy, the same simple push-button interface found within teaching spaces is replicated in social and non-bookable study spaces across the building. In these areas, students walk up and follow the same simple process to connect and use the equipment.
When the screens in the social study areas are not in active use by students, they automatically revert to digital signage. The content deployed is specific to the screen’s location and contains a mix of topical information and messaging designed to invite students to use the space and technology within the area.
Walking around Building 502, the invitation to participate has been received and wholeheartedly accepted by students. There is a lively buzz in the air, group study spaces are well occupied, and rooms with non-scheduled teaching have clusters of students actively preparing presentations and working on group-based projects. The key to the successful adoption of the building’s facilities according to Gary Swift, AV and VC manager at the University of Liverpool, has been the refusal to accept complexity in the user experience.