SPACE strategies have been working with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to support the development of an accommodation brief and space planning strategy for their “re-imagined” South and West faculty. In tandem, SRUC commissioned the team to re-imagine their “Arcade” space within the King’s Buildings Campus in Edinburgh as a pilot project for their ongoing transformational change programme.
The Arcade is located next to the main entrance / reception in the Peter Wilson Building and is highly visible to all users and visitors. The space is currently available as an informal study, social and meeting space and is also used as the waiting area for visitors to the building. However, due to its proportions, and despite the furniture in the space, the Arcade is viewed by staff and students as little more than a circulation route from the reception area through to the Library at the far end, and is rarely utilised. The space also falls short of reflecting the brand message that SRUC wish to express.
We were tasked to engage with strategic and operational stakeholders to develop an agreed brief, layout and design for the Arcade, with an emphasis on exploring ways in which space planning and design interventions could spark opportunities to work and learn differently. The proposals for the Arcade would also incorporate a strategy for better connecting with the Library and the wider refurbishment programme for the building, which will be part of future phased works.
An understanding of how the space is currently used, what works well and what doesn’t, was important to help identify where the opportunities lay. What would encourage students and staff to use the space and support incidental interactions and what activities should be encouraged ? Could formal teaching and learning activities break out into the space ? Who else might use the space if an agile environment is presented ? Could the space support SRUC partner organisations ? What are the key requirements of the space in terms of technology and digital learning ? What messages does the Arcade want to express in terms of brand, culture and design ?
These questions and opportunities were presented during a series of meetings and workshops with the stakeholders and student representatives, where ideas were assessed, agreed and developed or dissected and reassembled or discarded by way of lively and enthusiastic discussion.
The developing layouts needed to accommodate a “coffee pod” commissioned by SRUC Property and Estates Group, the general design of which had already been agreed. SPACE strategies were free to position the pod within the space and make adjustment to the finishes as necessary to compliment the evolving design of the Arcade.
The final agreed layout is based on a concept of zoned settings arranged within the space, or rooms within a room.
The “coffee pod” is positioned to provide a natural separation between the welcome zone at the reception end of the space and the more student focused spaces towards the Library end. The “bump space” around the “coffee pod” will be the heart of the Arcade, where visitors arriving, students traversing and users accessing the building via the courtyard will inevitably cross and interact.
Each zone is furnished according to its purpose, with a range of settings offering the users choice of destination within the space. The zones are offset from the axis to direct the occupants on a journey through the Arcade, removing the preconceived notion that the space is just a wide corridor.
Each setting provides its own sense of enclosure from the next, without being exclusive. Fabric colours have been selected to co-ordinate with the SRUC brand and construction materials are predominantly natural with timber laminate lining adopted where the need for optimal cleaning is required.
The coffee pod is scheduled for installation prior to students returning after the summer break, with the refurbishment works planned for October. We are all looking forward to seeing the final results of this collaborative endeavour and to witness how the occupants will interact with the new space.