UP to undergo social learning upgrades

MARKO SVICEVIC

This year, UP campuses will be undergoing large scale upgrading of facilities and spaces to facilitate more social learning environments. According to acting UP Executive member for Student Affairs, Prof. Carolina Koornhof, there is a pressing need for more space at UP. “Due to the financial situation UP finds itself in currently, there is a scaling down of property acquisition and instead spaces will be repurposed,” said Koornhof. UP is in the process of implementing the reutilisation of space, which includes the building of a new residence, relocation of student structures’ offices and revamping of selected areas.

According to UP campus architect, Ané Genis, a directive from the UP Executive was given on the creation of social learning spaces in which modern teaching styles and social collaboration could be effected. Genis also added that more office space was needed for facilities for insourced workers, UP clients, and external organisations contributing to the funding of “missing middle” students. “What we did is to audit the campus and we looked at spaces specifically where offices are not used full-time. This does not justify us giving that office, [and this was when] student houses came under our radar,” said Genis. The audit identified several existing UP spaces to form part of the reutilisation programme.

The four main areas identified for this year’s project are the Merensky II Library, the Huis and Haard Building, Monastery Hall and the Arnold Theiler Building (Onderstepoort). “The theme for the project is the four C’s – connectivity, charging [of electronic devices], catering and caffeine,” said Genis. The Fly@ UP project, driven by UP Executive member, Prof. Norman Duncan, will require flexible spaces to enhance student and staff collaboration and learning.

In addition to the redesigning of certain spaces, the following upgrades and changes are also expected: the addition of a coffee shop in the Merensky II Library foyer, the revamping of Monastery Hall (Kloostersaal), the revamping of the Huis and Haard Building, and the relocation of Nedbank from the Student Centre to the Kamma Kamma building. Genis further added that the buildings on Prospect Street that were used by societies and political parties will be used for academic purposes by the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. These buildings include Pophuis (occupied by DASO), Loeloeraai (occupied by Afriforum-Jeug UP), Kamma Kamma (occupied by Enactus), Vygie (occupied by Sasco), and Ou Kantoorjie (occupied by EFFSC).

The upper level of the Student Centre will be turned into an office space where student structures are able to book meeting rooms for their activities. Genis expects construction on the project to begin in the June/July recess, and it should be completed by the middle of next year.

 

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