In a presentation about the success-formula behind Semco, the owner of the Brazilian company Ricardo Semler wondered about the rate of change. He used the example of the automobile which in fact had not changed over the last century he explained to his audience; it still has “a chassis, four wheels and a steering wheel. "
Paradoxical of that presentation was the form of the auditorium, which was another sign of a change that had not happened over time: students who watch in a theatre-like form to a presentation of a teacher. A form (the traditional theatre) that has not changed over centuries.
Another change is about the reform of the European university. And another paradox of our time is that precisely in Greece there is opposition against the academic reforms projected by the European “Bologna" directive.
One of the structural changes that may cause this reform if of Greek origin; the academic auditorium. The traditional auditorium has a form where hundreds of students sit in a Greek theatre-like room and they observe the speech of a professor. The design of this room is formed that way so that all the attention is focused on the one-directional way to the presentation of the teacher and the teacher can reach all students at the same time.
Buildings are often the constructions that resist change. Buildings remain the same where the organization around the use of the building is changing. These days it is much more common to interact in order to learn and the one-way-theatre is not design for such a modern interaction.
Architects are reflecting on the new designs for universities. And the traditional auditorium will probably leave the stage in many faculties (not in all probably), making place for the smaller rooms where people can interact.
At the same time, students will probably still use a (traditional) car to get there.
© 2009 Hans Bool