Thanks to new technology that allow us to work and consume media almost anywhere, in the future, everything will be like a coffee shop. We're already seeing this coffee-shopification in the rise of flexible, collaborative co-working spaces. No doubt we will see something similar happen to our educational institutions, as traditional university lectures -- previously held in one place and at one specific time -- are giving way to lectures that can be viewed any time and from anywhere online.
And how might these future educational spaces look like? With the aim of creating a system of flexible furnishings for these transforming institutions, Dutch firm Mecanoo has teamed up with furniture maker Gispen to create HUBB, a line of modular classroom furniture that can adapt to changing situations quickly.
Consisting of a series of independent elements like chairs, stools, tables with adjustable surfaces, niches, wall dividers and canopies, the HUBB system can be endlessly reconfigured in various combinations. The system employs simple screw and snap connections, so that it is easy to disassemble and reassemble if needed. The designers say that HUBB is intended to be "future-proof", in the sense that it can be rearranged to suit new needs and activities. The designers say:
Learning is not limited to a single activity. In today’s educational system, no semester is the same when it comes to the curriculum or the teaching methods. Therefore learning environments should be designed in such way that they can respond to changing needs, both in the short and long term.
As seen in the images, the first iteration of the HUBB system was integrated in the renovation of the former central entrance building on the Fontys University of Applied Sciences campus, transforming an empty space into a multi-purpose learning environment that hosts various zones for studying, socialization and collaboration.
HUBB's use of diner-booth style configurations -- which use a layer of felt acoustic insulation -- help to offset some of the problems associated with open plan workspaces: too much exposure, noise and distractions.
HUBB represents a decent stab at designing a new kind of educational milieu that will hopefully bust out of the sterile, enclosed box-like traditional classroom. Of course, just littering an open space with modular furniture does not a rich learning community make; ultimately, that's up to the people who inhabit that space. And hey, adding some plants won't hurt either. More over at Mecanoo and Room To Learn.