Places of Encounter
The digital revolution has hit research and education particularly hard. Why should students attend a lecture, when the corre-sponding script is available for download? Books are readily available online, and the latest research findings are often published on the internet before anywhere else. Nevertheless, there are many good reasons why institutes of higher learning and research need a strong spatial presence, and these should be reflected by compelling architectural concepts.
For our March issue on buildings for research and instruction, we have compiled a selection of university building projects that have recently been completed in places such as Cambridge, Kassel, Senegal and Peru. Most buildings that accommodate libraries, lecture halls, labs or large and complex programmes share one thing in particular: their architecture pointedly enhances common areas, providing their users with diverse opportunities for leisure and recreation. These can range from informal meeting spaces with comfortable seating, or indoor gyms for a quick game of handball during the lunch break, as found in the buildings of the new campus at Paris-Saclay. Shaded outdoor spaces or common areas flooded with natural light are also popular. The more convincing the spatial quality and benefits for the community, the sooner the architecture will be accepted. Some of the academic campuses are cleverly integrated into the surrounding historical district, as examined in our documentations of the Faculty of Radio and Television in Katowice and the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest.
As places of encounter, these institutions not only need good architecture but must also be met with a sense of open-mindedness and political support. How such issues are being handled in Hungary is explained in our article on the CEU.