The Bartlett Real Estate Institute


Busy month for Global Centre for Learning Environments

28 June 2019

Higher education was a focus for the Global Centre for Learning Environments in June

Dr Jos Boys, Global Centre for Learning Environments

June was a busy month for BREI’s Global Centre for Learning Environments, with the Institute hosting visitors to its Here East facilities and staff speaking at events around the world.

On June 10 AUDE, the Association for University Directors of Estates, visited BREI’s Global Centre for Learning Environments. Members of the AUDE Executive Board had a chance to see the impressive and innovative Here East facilities, including robots, makerspace, studios and testing facilities, as well as the elegant home of BREI.

Among the discussion were ideas for much-needed future research on higher education estates required by the sector.

Professor Alexi Marmot, director of the Global Centre for Learning Environments, contributed to an Institute of Education seminar entitled ‘The belonging game: Are we letting our children and young people down?’ initiated by IoE’s Professor of Urban Education, Kathryn Riley.

Prof Marmot’s talk built on Bachelard’s concepts of The Poetics of Space. She outlined what the built environment can potentially contribute to the sense of belonging, to the creation of nests, shells, and other places that speak to young people and their multiple culture and values. Cross-disciplinary proposals for Bartlett-IoE research resulted from this event.

The International Special Interest Group of IWFM, the Institute for Workspace and Facility Management, also visited BREI in June, for a lively session on ‘FM challenges in Learning Environments: Global Best Practice’. 

IWFM ISIG chair Steve Gladwin and BREI director Professor Andrew Edkins welcomed the many attendees, while senior lecturer Peter McLennan, former UCL head of estates Andrew Grainger and Prof Marmot gave their perspectives on what's special about FM in universities, and likely changes on the horizon. Guests were impressed by the Here East facilities that they had a chance to visit, and the networking between practitioners and academics that the event encouraged.

Prof Marmot also took part in two international events held by the Higher Education Design Quality Forum. New university estates in Denmark were the focus of a seminar held in the Danish Embassy in London, while the other was a visit to university buildings in Barcelona.

Both events provided the opportunity to learn about innovative design responses to local needs. A common theme was the importance of university estates in attracting international talent, thereby helping to create thriving urban and national economic growth hubs and innovation centres. Several case study buildings highlighted sustainability and the imperative to move towards zero carbon university buildings and operations.

MSc Learning Environments director Dr Jos Boys presented papers in Educational Architecture and Inclusion at seminars at Monash University in Melbourne and University of Technology Sydney. She also spoke at conferences in Lisbon, New York, Brighton and Innsbruck.

“It has been really interesting to see emerging and expanding international interest in making education more inclusive at every level; and in co-exploring with many others how design and services could be improved, together with creating changes in attitudes and institutional cultures that still tend to disadvantage disabled people in education,” said Dr Boys.