architect: Heatherwick Studio
The Learning Hub at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), designed by Heatherwick Studio and executed by lead architect CPG Consultants, is a new educational landmark for Singapore. As part of NTU‘s redevelopment plan for the campus, the Learning Hub is designed to be a new multi-use building for its 33,000 students. Instead of the traditional format of an educational building with miles of corridors linking box-like lecture rooms, the university asked for a unique design better suited to contemporary ways of learning. With the digital revolution allowing learning to take place almost anywhere, the most important function of this new university building was to be a place where students and professors from various disciplines could meet and interact with one other. Twelve towers, each a stack of rounded tutorial rooms, taper inwards at their base around a generous public central atrium to provide fifty-six tutorial rooms without corners or obvious fronts or backs. The new-generation smart classrooms were conceived by NTU to support its new learning pedagogies that promote more interactive small group teaching and active learning. The rooms in turn open onto the shared circulation space around the atrium, interspersed with open spaces and informal garden terraces, allowing students to be visually connected while also leaving space to linger, gather and pause.
Founder and Principal Thomas Heatherwick, Heatherwick Studio says, “Heatherwick Studio‘s first major new building in Asia has offered us an extraordinary opportunity to rethink the traditional university building. In the information age the most important commodity on a campus is social space to meet and bump into and learn from each other. The Learning Hub is a collection of handmade concrete towers surrounding a central space that brings everyone together, interspersed with nooks, balconies and gardens for informal collaborative learning. We are honoured to have had the chance to work with this forward-thinking and ambitious academic institution to realise such an unusual project.”