Tag Archives: serendipity

The informal meeting place in a university building, the multiple functions of a doorway

Innovation and knowledge are essential for progress. You can gain knowledge by going to a university or doing research. Knowledge development requires a creative boost that might be released by a moment of serendipity. Thus universities have an interest in creating these moments. The question is: can we arrange the conditions for serendipity through design of university buildings?
Serendipity can occur through informal, unplanned encounters. These momentsontmoeting of informal communication are an important instant for knowledge and knowledge production as research on R& D organizations shows: The chance of having informal meetings enlarges the attractiveness of a university environment; these encounters can be seen as possibilities to gain new ideas and to strengthen opinions and visions. The chance of an informal meeting is one of the reasons to come to the campus, and contributes to a sense of belonging to the university as a place where you can meet interesting people.
What are the spatial conditions for these encounters? For an answer I made pictures of people gathering together on university ground. For this blog I choose one of the pictures I made in a faculty of Architecture.
On this picture we see the interior of a building, the intersection of the end of a staircase at your right-hand, a corridor the building has more than two floors. Let’s have a closer look to the people who are in it. In the foreground we see a man, presumably a cleaner with a garbage bag, emptying a bin. We see people standing and walking in the corridor. Someone is just flying down the stairs. I concentrate upon the people hanging in the doorway. One wears a checkered shirt and the other is dressed in orange. Both wear a backpack. They are male, talking, turned towards a girl. The girl seems to smile to them and looks sexy in her revealing shirt. Another young man is passing by. At the left side a girl is standing in the corridor. Does she watch the scene? Other people you see partly, maybe it is busy in the building. What we see is an encounter in a corridor, a route between destinations. We see that the people, who are talking, are hanging in a doorway at an intersection of routes.
According to this picture the existence and combination of a route, an intersection and a doorway are spatial conditions for this informal encounter. The crossing of routes increases the possibilities of encountering and at the same time people can continue on their way, anytime. Which stresses the voluntary nature of the encounter. The function of the doorway is multiple. The slightly narrowing in the corridor makes people decelerate, it marks a boundary between different spaces, both cause raised attention for the surroundings. It is a natural place to lean, because the doorpost comes forward from the wall. In a university such an occasion leads to a chat between students or scholars. And who knows, leads to a fruitful cooperation on a research project and an inspiring moment of insight. The creative boost that is required for knowledge development.

Leave a comment

Filed under Campus Planning and Design, Higher Education, Place Attachment, Uncategorized