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Wednesday 27 July 2016

Take a peek at the Pod

This September Southampton Solent University will be opening its doors for the very first time to a stunning new £33 million teaching and learning building aimed at encouraging creative, interactive and flexible ways of learning.

“This new building marks a huge step forward in the provision of modern learning and teaching for us as a University,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Mike Wilkinson. “With a number of unique and ground-breaking design features, this investment will help Solent to further enrich the student experience while also supporting the regions’ economic growth and development.”

A welcome reception to the Spark

Spread over five stories, the building boasts 40 teaching spaces - 35 classrooms and five lecture rooms - providing a combined teaching capacity of 1,500 at any one time.

The building benefits from specially designed audio-visual and teaching technology. Each teaching space is lecture capture enabled and will replace the traditional projector/whiteboard combo with a 75” touchscreen, so that lectures can be recorded and uploaded to the University’s virtual learning environment for future reference.    

Looking to break learners out of a traditional ‘receiver of knowledge’ mentality and getting them engaged through active questioning and thinking, it’s the only teaching building in the sector with such a large proportion of ‘agile’ furniture - designed to promote creativity, independent thinking, and individual ways of learning.

Harvard-style lecture theatre

Designed with equality of access in mind, it has height adjustable tables in each classroom and a range of seating and table options. Each of the 30-student capacity teaching rooms near the lifts on each floor is fully compliant with the Equality Act 2010, meaning that even if all 30 students were wheelchair users, the room remains functional, effective and safe.

As well as classrooms, lecture theatres and conference rooms, the Spark has a selection of social spaces to encourage collaborative learning and relaxation.

One of the many social learning and relaxation spaces

The Spark’s stunning sixty-metre central atrium and dramatic elevated ‘pod’ has already caught the imagination of the building and education sectors, as well as passers-by. Designed by Scott Brownrigg and fabricated by CIG Architecture in the Netherlands, the pod hosts a lecture theatre with an open-topped viewing platform with fantastic views.

Businesses and community groups will also be able to benefit from the building’s futuristic and flexible facilities. In addition to the Pod and semi-public atrium that will be available for events – from trade shows to fashion shows, art exhibitions to networking events – the Spark also features two large flexible suites, a bookable business centre and a new VIP dining area.

A pod-side view

The new building has already hosted a number of events including: a selection of the University’s annual degree shows this June; an Open Day for potential new students; and graduation activities earlier this month (July).

Students will be using the new building and its facilities from the start of the 2016 academic year, this September.

The latest addition to the University’s city centre campus is part of a £100 million campus development plan, due for completion in 2020, which will include a new sports centre.

Mike adds: “This new addition to our city centre campus will play a major role in helping the University continue to deliver the best learning and conference experience for staff, students and the wider community.”