The new teaching and learning building is the latest addition to the University of Nottingham Park Campus. A 5,000m2 teaching facility, this brand-new building was developed with the aim of ensuring that teaching is of the highest quality and well-regarded within the University. The building also sought personalisation of the learning experience. At the core of this goal was a supportive learning environment that consolidated the design of library, social, teaching and learning spaces with a focus on flexibility and a collaborative academic environment. The new Teaching and Learning Building includes a variety of flexible learning spaces, seminar rooms, study pods and a 306-seat lecture theatre. The design of the AV within said spaces focused on flexibility, creativity and support, with solutions being bold and enterprising enough to allow for the support of different academic purposes.
While each space featured a fully-integrated lectern (meeting the standard throughout the University of Nottingham), they aimed to meet their goals and enhance the classroom experience by installing Microsoft Surface Hubs throughout the building. While the integration of an all-encompassing technological solution ticked many of the University’s boxes, the provision and integration of so many of these units would inevitably pose a challenge. One of those challenges involved adherence to Equality Act compliance, meaning that the interactive displays in the seminar and huddle rooms required mounting in a manner that would facilitate easy vertical movement of the heavy units.
With the Microsoft Surface Hub units being large and heavy, producing a solution that would offer the strength and freedom of movement required was no simple feat. After discussion with Dave Halford, University of Nottingham’s Teaching Room Support Group Leader, at ISE in 2018, TeamMate together with GV Multimedia put forward bespoke variants of their incredibly popular Totem AV stand. These new solutions bore custom brackets to fit Balance Box height adjustable mounts.
The solution presented enabled users to effortlessly manoeuvre the Microsoft Surface Hubs up and down with a touch of a finger, allowing interaction with the screen at any height. The Totem AV Stands in the seminar rooms also had provision for any additional rack mountable equipment and provided easy access to the enclosures via the lockable doors on the front and sides. The result was a perfect answer to a very challenging question, and one that the customer was very happy with.
The new building now has over 20 flexible learning spaces with new AV/IT facilities that will provide students with greater opportunity for collaboration and interactive learning. Each interactive display was installed on equality act compliant technical furniture which could encourage users who may have a disability to use the technology.
While each space within the building was designed from the ground up, one of the highlights of the building is the main open plan flexible learning space. In this one room is a set of 10 VariHite Screens Stands supporting 55” Surface Hubs. These robust carts were designed to enable students to manoeuvre them to different workstations to encourage active collaboration within the teaching environment. The height adjustment feature also accommodated any user with a disability. In addition to the numerous electronically height adjustable VariHite Screen Stands, a mobile Totem AV Stand with an 84” Surface Hub acted as the front-of-class interactive display, accompanying the standard lectern and projection.
For the Seminar rooms Totem floor-to-wall stands supported 84” Microsoft Surface Hubs as a front-of-class display. In addition, Totem Slims were chosen for the much smaller study pods.
“The Balance Box Totems have been received very well by the lecturers. The only issue is how far they are away from the wall – but it’s unavoidable due to the weight of the units and doesn’t negatively impact the aesthetic.”
Ian Pearshouse, Senior User Experience Designer – Physical and Virtual Learning Spaces
University of Nottingham
“It seems a long time ago since we sat down and first discussed this project. Despite some challenges along the way, I am very pleased with the result. I feel we have fulfilled the aim of providing an accessible, purposeful and modern teaching facility to aid learning. I want to thank all the staff at The University of Nottingham, our suppliers and my colleagues who assisted with our work and made it possible to successfully accomplish this project.“
Maarten De Vogel, Technical Project Manager