Monday, November 05, 2007

Computer labs and open areas at UNSW Law Library

Open area desks at UNSW LAW Faculty PHOTOGRAPHY JOHN GOLLINGSOne interesting use of learning space are the computer labs and open areas in the UNSW Freehills Law Library Law Library in the New Law Faculty Building. The open plan areas have desks seating four students with screens between, as is now common in university libraries. However, unlike the usual circular desks, these are shaped to partly enclose the student, rather than have them on the outside of a circle.

The desks consist of a square with a section cut out for the student to sit into. This makes for an elegant and relatively simple design. The desk has four legs which are well away from the seating position. The screens on the desk appear to be the cutouts from the desk and are arranged to also provide extra rigidity for the desktop.

There are two power points built into the desk for each student. There are no cables visible and presumably the power cables are run down one leg of the table into the floor. This makes for a safe and neat installation, but one which is inflexible, as the tables cannot be moved without rewiring the room.

A similar desk design might be used for a flexible learning area, but with the partitions not extending to the edge of the desk, to allow for group work on occasions, but also allow for some privacy for individual work.

The computer labs in the same building are less interesting having straight rows of desks, with desktop computers and monitors all facing the front of the room. While there are white boards at the front of the room, students in the back row would have difficulty seeing the white boards, with the rows of monitors in front of them.



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