At Stoas University of Applied Sciences and Teacher Education they are convinced that learning is not just a matter of gaining knowledge. Their holistic view on learning and development implies another approach. On these beautiful wooden waterrowers you can do relaxing physical exercise after a long day of meetings and study. Others start their day rowing away, some actually prefer the waterrower above the meetingroom to discuss their agenda. Extra feature of the waterrower is that it actually uses waterresistance which gives you a real rowingexperience. The natural sound of water doesn’t spread disturbing noise to it’s surroundings which makes them very suitable for office environments. The icecubes on the wall show the beauty of natural crystallisation but also tricks the mind to keep you cool.
For Stoas University of Applied Sciences and Teacher Education a concept for a new type of furniture was introduced. The design is a modification of an existing designpiece; the Utopa by Studio VanDen from the Ecoluxury series. The Reflective Workspace asked the designer if he could invent a cocoonstool & couch which would be affordable for the school. When we discussed the idea to introduce a naked version of the Utopa piece with the straps still visible we also immediately saw a chance to use this as a connective community building item. Because the straps can be applied in different ways, each object will be unique. This selfbuild activity is coördinated by the designer but the application of the straps by hand will be done by the members of the organisation themselves. The activity and the result will add a sense of place and ownership to their new surroundings. Collaboration also helps to dissolve the separation between different educational departments and playfully stretches the minds of those people who still identify with that. Staffmembers, students and teachers will all be invited to participate.
The Stoas University of Applied Sciences and Teacher Education in Wageningen recently moved into a new building designed by BDG Architects. It’s specific circle shape with a three storey void in the center was developed in relation to the school’s vision on ecological intelligence; combining maximum floorspace with a minimum of elevationsurface in order to use less energy. The circle has a it’s difficulties though. Once you are inside of the building, it’s easy to loose one’s orientation plus every single object that you bring into this building is fully exposed as a sculpture. The orientation issue is partly solved with wallpictures and color. We suggested furthermore to make a difference between flexible (nomadic) furniture and fixed items, so you have spaces that change and spaces that do not change. The shapes of the furniture objects were chosen with great care in relation to full exposure, for example square tables are very dissonant in these spaces. The Reflective Workspace was asked to develop a complete vision on the interior which would emphasize and express the principles of Stoas: ecology, sustainability and innovation. We made a distiction between abstact functional furniture and more playful items such as an interior treehouse. Also between formal learning spaces versus creative spaces where it’s even allowed do draw on the wall! Contrasts and diversity are supposed here to stimulate both of the brainhalves which leads to balanced development and sustainable thought and action.
Because the school brought some of their old furniture with them and because they wanted to get used to their new building first, we decided to slow down and not realise the whole project at once. We ended up making a “Handboek”, a kind of selfhelp toolkit catalogue in which all the ideas and propositions were collected and combined into a kind of masterplan. When there is budget available the school can add stuff from this “Handboek”. The end-product here is not a finished interior project; it will grow in time, like an organism. This has the advantage that choices can be re-adjusted in order to really fit the organisation. A situation which is very hard to achieve when you do traditional top-down projectdesign. The “Handboek” has an open ending; new ideas can be added and adjustments can be included.