Westmead Hospital and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead are major teaching hospitals of the University of Sydney. Teaching hospitals have always shared space with universities. What sets the Westmead Redevelopment’s Westmead Education and Conference Centre (WECC) refurbishment apart is that in designing a shared space, partners across the Westmead precinct had an opportunity to consider what is important when it comes to the future of education, training and research at Westmead.
“Preparing students to participate in knowledge economies means giving them authentic opportunities to develop their ability to think critically, solve problems, source and interpret information and convey meaning,” says Dr Pippa Yeoman, an ethnographer researching the design and use of learning spaces, at the University of Sydney.
An appreciation for cultural diversity and a practical understanding of ethical conduct is equally important, Pippa says, not to mention a healthy dose of curiosity.
“Designing a space to accommodate the breadth of these aspirations was the driving force that shaped the redevelopment of the WECC.”
The energy that went into designing the Cabaret Theatre laid the groundwork for thinking about WECC Level 1 not as an assortment of parts, but as a holistic learning space — an ecology of sorts.
As such, Level 1 provides both formal and informal spaces for active group work, large group presentations, individual reflection and desk and computer based work.
“The technology has been tailored to support this new approach to education, training and research, and to improve the student and teacher experience”, says WECC ICT Project Manager, George Khouri.
“The student is at the centre of the design and technology in WECC. AV systems support a variety of presentation and collaboration styles on projects, and digital white boards encourage workshopping in small groups.”
The physical and virtual teaching and learning space will seamlessly link through tools like video and web conferencing, allowing students, teachers and staff to work across facilities in the health district and other University of Sydney campuses.
“We need to work in different ways, and creating new teaching and learning spaces to support these efforts is part of the process”, Pippa says.
“If we are to have a chance at success, it is up to everyone who uses this new space to engage with the guiding principles of design — dialogue, communication and innovation – and to participate in education, training and research across boundaries.”
The University of Sydney's Westmead Forum is on this Wednesday 2 August, and will provide an overview of the new WECC level 1 space. University of Sydney staff, students, affiliates and guests of the University are welcome to attend. Online registration is essential: https://uniforumaugust2017.eventbrite.com.au.
Read about the University of Sydney partnership at Westmead.
An amended version of this story appeared in the Westmead Update 121 (published 31.07.17).