Heriot-Watt University James Watt Centre social area

- Higher Education
- Workplace

Heriot-Watt University: Flexible learning spaces for the 21st century

— CLIENT
Heriot-Watt University

— SECTOR
Higher Education
Workplace

— SERVICES
Architecture
Interior Design

— VALUE
Various

— LEAD CONTACTS
Graeme Feechan
Siobhan Davitt
Stephen Miles

Challenge

We’ve worked on several refurbishment projects for Heriot-Watt University, designing spaces from lecture theatres to a café. On every project, the University emphasised the importance of understanding how students learn in the 21st century: spaces needed to be flexible and varied, with up-to-date technology that would encourage students to stay on campus.

Refurbishments on a busy campus can be particularly challenging: we needed to work around semester and summer school timetables, sometimes phasing multiple refurbishments within a single project. Many of the spaces were also served by old, inefficient electrical and heating systems, which were direly in need of an upgrade.

Approach + Solution

We specialise in designing spaces for collaborative working and learning, and brought our wealth of experience to bear on the varied challenges involved in these refurbishments. For instance, the James Watt Centre includes collaborative lecture theatres, where comfy bench-style seating allows lecturers to choose between group work and more traditional teaching styles.

We significantly improved the energy efficiency of the spaces, using technologies such as displacement ventilation and LED lighting. Students can now study in rooms which are attractive, comfortable, and much more sustainable – and the wide variety of spaces gives them a new flexibility of choice in how and where they learn.

“The space is a turning point not just for how research is supported, but as a template for what we want for all of our services in support of our academic goals.”

– ANN MARIE DALTON-PILLAY, SECRETARY OF HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY