This one day conference in mid-June was sub-titled Changing Minds and offered an interestingly eclectic set of speakers across architecture, education and estates.
The person who stood out for me though was Simon Austin from Loughborough, one of the partners in the recent HEFCE -funded project on Academic Workspace. As he summarises:
"Many universities have tried to create new types of academic office environments that foster collaboration and knowledge flow between occupants, in a bid to increase creativity and innovation in teaching and research. However, core aspects of academic work also require privacy and opportunity for quiet reflection. A common strategy to address this tension is the provision of multiple work settings, which provide occupants with a mixture of private and social/shared environments. This presentation introduces the concept of default location and, with reference to two in-depth case studies, argues that this plays a critical role in the success of multi-setting office environments."
So, through rigorous comparative study, the research was able to show real qualitative differences in the experiences of academic staff/usability of space between having private offices with a shared area; and sharing an open-plan office with bookable 'seminar/private' spaces off. Most importantly this was not just a matter of functionality; it was how they felt they might be perceived by others if 'took up' space in particular ways.
Just great to see a well evidenced study, with clear and usable outcomes.